ECUADOR (TIER 2) [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]
Ecuador is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking victims are believed to be children trafficked within the country from border and central highland areas to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation as well as for domestic servitude, forced begging, and forced labor in mines and other hazardous work. According to a recent government study, the main destination provinces for human trafficking include Pichincha, Guayas, Esmeraldas, and Manabi. Ecuadorian children are trafficked to Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and the Dominican Republic for forced labor, particularly street begging, forced vending, and as domestic servants. Ecuadorian women are trafficked to Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Western Europe for commercial sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, Ecuador is a destination country for the trafficking of Colombian and Peruvian women and girls for commercial sexual exploitation, particularly in border areas, the Amazon region, and cities such as Quito, Santo Domingo, and Esmeraldas. Ecuador is a transit country for Asian nationals to the Western Hemisphere; while some migrants consent to being smuggled through Ecuador, others fall victim to human traffickers along the way.
The Government of Ecuador does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government sustained strong law enforcement measures against sex trafficking offenders, in addition to victim assistance. However, the government’s law enforcement efforts did not sufficiently address forced labor, sex trafficking crimes involving adults, or evidence of trafficking-related complicity of some local government officials. Moreover, the government’s recent decision to lift its tourist visa requirement has resulted in a heavy influx of migrants into the country, some of whom may be trafficked.
Recommendations for Ecuador: Continue vigorous efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses – including forced labor -- and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including public officials complicit in trafficking activities, particularly at the local level; increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement and other government officials; increase raids on brothels that exploit underage children; and develop formal procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, particularly adult women in prostitution and foreign migrants subject to high smuggling debts.
Most cases during the current reporting period involved the inducement of children into prostitution or commercial sexual exploitation. A small number of prosecutions are related to labor exploitation, but do not appear commensurate to the incidence of forced labor in the country, particularly the large number of children exploited for forced begging and forced domestic work. Despite reports of trafficking-related corruption, particularly related to civil registry officials issuing false identity documents to Colombian minors, no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of potentially complicit officials took place last year. According to Ecuadorian police, brothel owners commonly use false identity documents to exploit foreign children in prostitution, and to avoid criminal liability for immigration and trafficking violations in the event of a police raid. The government continued to train law enforcement personnel on anti-trafficking skills, and organized an international conference with neighboring countries on forced begging.