[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

VENEZUELA (Tier 3) Extracted in part  from the U.S. State Dept 2023 TIP Report

Venezuela does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making any efforts to do so, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Venezuela remained on Tier 3. On January 10, 2019, the term of former president Nicolás Maduro ended. On January 19, 2023, the 2015 legitimate National Assembly elected new leadership. The 2015 National Assembly remains the only national democratically elected institution in Venezuela. Maduro refused to cede control, preventing the National Assembly from exercising authority within the country. References herein reflect efforts made, or lack thereof, by the Maduro regime and not the democratically elected officials unable to exercise their authority within the country during the reporting period. Mentions of the “regime,” or “Maduro regime” below are not intended to indicate that the United States considers such entities to be the Government of Venezuela. Despite a lack of significant efforts, the regime took limited steps to address trafficking, including arresting some traffickers and identifying some victims. However, the Maduro regime did not report assisting any victims or prosecuting or convicting any traffickers. Lack of reliable public information and regime restrictions on the press limited reporting on anti-trafficking efforts. The Maduro regime continued to provide support and maintained a permissive environment for non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and other illegal armed groups that forcibly recruited and used children for armed conflict or forced criminality and engaged in sex trafficking and forced labor while operating with impunity. Despite such reports, the regime did not make sufficient efforts to curb forced recruitment and use of children for armed conflict or forced criminality.

Prioritized Recommendations

Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit regime members and those involved in the forcible recruitment of children into NSAGs or other illegal armed groups.

Provide specialized services for all trafficking victims, including repatriated victims, men, boys, and LGBTQI+ individuals, as well as former soldiers.

Proactively inform Venezuelans fleeing the country on the risks of human trafficking and where and how to seek services.

Implement formal procedures and training, including for migration and law enforcement personnel at border crossings, to identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as individuals in commercial sex, and refer victims for care.

Draft and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation criminalizing all forms of trafficking, including child sex trafficking without elements of force, fraud, or coercion and the trafficking of men and boys.

Increase staffing and funding for the special prosecutor’s office to combat trafficking.

Proactively screen Cuban medical workers for trafficking indicators and protect those who are victims of trafficking.

Fund and collaborate with civil society organizations and other service providers to increase protection and assistance for victims.

Finalize, fund, and implement a NAP to address trafficking and present challenges, including mass migration and displacement, regime complicity, and forced recruitment of children for armed conflict.

Enhance interagency cooperation by forming a permanent anti-trafficking working group.

Improve data collection of anti-trafficking efforts and make this data publicly available