Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Bolivia

Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Bolivia

By Dialogo
September 03, 2013

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report published in June 2013 by the U.S. Department of State, Bolivia is principally a source country for men, women, and children who are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor within the country or abroad. Bolivians are found in conditions of forced labor in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Spain, the United States, and other countries, usually in sweatshops and agriculture, as well as in domestic service.

Within Bolivia, women, children, and men are subjected to sex trafficking, often in urban areas. But members of indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Within the country, Bolivian children are found in domestic servitude, forced begging, and forced labor in mining and agriculture.

The Government of Bolivia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the year, the government enacted a new trafficking law that strengthened victim protection and trafficking prevention efforts. However, it did not provide dedicated funding to government ministries to fulfill some of the law’s new requirements until 2013.

The report’s recommendations for Bolivia include enhancing victim services across the country by increasing resources designated for specialized assistance for trafficking victims, including for victims of forced labor; strengthening efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses, and convicting and punishing trafficking offenders and fraudulent labor recruiters; increasing resources for prosecutors and police and ensuring that dedicated human trafficking units focus on human trafficking as opposed to other crimes such as missing persons.

Additionally, the report recommends that Bolivia enhances its efforts to identify trafficking victims proactively by developing formal procedures for identification of victims among vulnerable populations; intensifies law enforcement efforts against the forced labor of adults and children, including domestic servitude, and the forced prostitution of adults; and ensures that returning Bolivian trafficking victims receive reintegration services.

With respect to prosecution, the report says that the government also enacted a new trafficking law in July 2012 that prohibits all forms of trafficking and establishes penalties of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed under Bolivian law for other serious crimes, such as rape.

The law diverges from the 2000 UN TIP Protocol by penalizing illegal adoption as human trafficking. Previously, Bolivian law prohibited all forms of human trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 12 years’ imprisonment.

In order to implement the new law, the government of Bolivia took various steps. Some of these are summarized below:

• The national anti-trafficking council, which also focused on smuggling, developed implementing guidelines for the new trafficking law, which were formalized in February 2013.

• The government also hired officers in 14 specialized anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling police units that were also funded by foreign governments.

• Law enforcement officials and prosecutors received anti-trafficking training from government officials in 2012, often funded by NGOs, international organizations, as well as a foreign government.

• The government also developed public service announcements on the new law that aired during the year. The new law required media outlets to run a certain number of minutes of public service announcements about human trafficking and the new law each month.

• Police officers also continued to conduct awareness programs in public schools in the La Paz area.

• The government provided human rights training with anti-trafficking content for its troops before they deployed on international peacekeeping missions.