[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

PERU (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Peru is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of human trafficking occurs within the country. The ILO and IOM estimate that more than 20,000 persons are trafficked into conditions of forced labor within Peru, mainly in the mining and logging sectors, agriculture, and brick-making sectors, and as domestic servants. Many trafficking victims are women and girls from impoverished rural regions of the Amazon, recruited and coerced into prostitution in urban nightclubs, bars, and brothels, often through false employment offers or promises of education. Indigenous persons are particularly vulnerable to being subjected to debt bondage by Amazon landowners. Forced child labor remains a problem, particularly in informal gold mines and coca production. To a lesser extent, Peruvians are trafficked to Ecuador, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the United States for commercial sexual exploitation, and to Argentina, Chile, and Brazil for forced labor. Peru also is a destination country for some Ecuadorian and Bolivian females trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, and the trafficking of Bolivians for forced labor. The Peruvian government recognizes child sex tourism to be a problem, particularly in Iquitos, Madre de Dios, and Cuzco.

The Government of Peru does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Last year the government increased law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking crimes. Nonetheless, the government’s efforts to combat forced labor crimes and provide victim assistance were inadequate. While Peruvian officials recognize human trafficking as a serious problem, and have taken concrete steps to address it, a stronger and more coordinated response by the government is required, especially in light of the estimated number of victims present in the country.

Recommendations for Peru: Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including corrupt officials who may facilitate trafficking activity; increase investigations of forced labor crimes; increase protection services for victims or funding to NGOs with capacity to provide trafficking victims, including adult males, with specialized care; increase anti-trafficking training for prosecutors and judges and sustain training for police and other government personnel, including labor inspectors; increase public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking; improve data collection; and increase victim participation in their own cases.

The Government of Peru improved efforts to combat human trafficking through law enforcement last year. Peru prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons pursuant to Article 153 of its penal code, which prescribes penalties of eight to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Peru’s anti-trafficking law was enacted in January 2007, and the law’s implementing regulations were approved in November 2008, assigning anti-trafficking responsibilities to different government entities; the regulations also cite a strong need for increased anti-trafficking training. During the reporting period, the government opened 54 sex trafficking prosecutions and secured the convictions of five sex trafficking offenders, who received sentences ranging from eight to 12 years’ imprisonment. Such results represent a significant increase from the previous year, when the government opened 15 prosecutions and achieved no convictions. Most defendants were convicted on charges involving the commercial sexual exploitation of minors, particularly in Iquitos. However, there were very few prosecutions or convictions reported for forced labor offenses, despite an estimated high incidence of forced labor in the country. In March 2008, the government established a dedicated anti-trafficking police unit, and it conducted raids of brothels that resulted in the rescue of 56 sex trafficking victims. Numerous barriers to effective police investigations of trafficking crimes remained, however, including an inadequate flow of information and coordination among police units at the local, metropolitan, and national levels, and with prosecutors and other actors in the criminal justice system, including social service providers. NGOs reported that many police still lacked sensitive interviewing techniques, and had limited knowledge of human trafficking crimes. Corruption among low-level officials enabled trafficking in certain instances, and individual police officers tolerated the operation of unlicensed brothels. No investigations of official complicity with trafficking activity were reported last year.

The government provided limited assistance to trafficking victims last year. Child victims of trafficking were referred to government institutions for basic shelter and care. Similarly, the government operated generalized shelters accessible to adult female victims of abuse, including trafficking victims. However, specialized services and shelter for trafficking victims remained largely unavailable. While the government provided some assistance to anti-trafficking NGOs, adequate victim services remained unavailable in many parts of the country. Last year, Peruvian authorities identified 153 trafficking victims, though the number of victims in the country is thought to be much higher. The government did not employ a formal mechanism for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as adult women in prostitution. Police made efforts to contact parents of identified child trafficking victims. Trafficking victims, however, often lacked personal identification documents and many police released them without classifying them as trafficking victims or referring them to shelters. Many minors exploited in prostitution ended up returning to brothels in search of shelter and food. Lack of victim participation in the investigation or prosecution of traffickers remained a problem. The government did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, and the government assisted foreign victims with voluntary repatriation.

The government sustained anti-trafficking prevention efforts, and continued operation of a toll-free IOM-assisted hotline for the reporting of trafficking crimes. The government aired anti-trafficking videos in transportation hubs, warning travelers of the legal consequences of engaging in trafficking activity or consuming services from trafficked persons. The government involved the private sector in its education campaigns and worked to gain public commitment from businesses not to participate in trafficking activity. The labor ministry and NGOs provided awareness campaigns to inform indigenous people of their rights and prevent debt bondage situations. The government provided specialized training on forced labor for a small number of labor inspectors last year. No additional efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor were reported. Peruvian peacekeepers deployed to Haiti received standards of conduct training through the United Nations last year.