Trafficking in Persons 2013: Argentina

By Dialogo
July 31, 2013

Argentina is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, according to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report published in June by the U.S. Department of State.

Argentine women and children, including many from rural areas or northern provinces, are forced into prostitution within the country, particularly in urban centers or provinces in central and southern Argentina.

A significant number of foreign women and children, primarily from Paraguay and the Dominican Republic, are subjected to sex trafficking in Argentina. A large number of Bolivians, Paraguayans, and Peruvians, as well as Argentine citizens often from poorer northern provinces, are subjected to forced labor in sweatshops, agriculture, supermarkets, and domestic work. Children in street vending or begging are reportedly vulnerable to forced labor. To a more limited extent, Argentine women and girls have been found in sex trafficking in other countries.

The Government of Argentina is making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the year, authorities convicted approximately 17 trafficking offenders and identified a significant number of potential victims. The government continued to support four shelters that provided specialized services to female trafficking victims and passed a new comprehensive trafficking law in December 2012 that prohibits all forms of human trafficking and prescribing penalties of four to 15 years’ imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

Still, trafficking-related corruption remained a serious concern, while the government failed to hold any officials complicit in human trafficking criminally accountable through convictions or sentences during the year.

While authorities carried out 368 preliminary trafficking investigations in 2012, the anti-trafficking prosecutor’s office (UFASE) noted an overall decrease in prosecutions.

It was also noted that Argentine prosecutors coordinated with the Government of Paraguay and other foreign governments on transnational trafficking investigations.

The Argentine government reported identifying a significant number of potential trafficking victims and continued to fund several shelters providing services to female sex trafficking victims, but resources dedicated to specialized services, particularly for forced labor victims, did not fully meet the needs of the large number of trafficking victims identified during the year.

The Ministry of Security reported identifying approximately 1,000 potential human trafficking victims: 525 potential labor trafficking victims and 430 potential sex trafficking victims; 169 children and 807 adults. The majority of sex trafficking victims identified were Argentine citizens, while the majority of labor trafficking victims were from Bolivia.

Argentine authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, and some victims did so during the year.

The Government of Argentina maintained prevention efforts during the year. The trafficking law mandated new interagency coordination mechanisms, including a federal council and an executive committee, both under the presidency.