ACCOMPANYING CHRONICLE: PERU HUMAN TRAFFICKING AME2009. MADRE DE DIOS (PERU), 09/23/2023.- Undated photo released by CHS Alternativo of a group of women involved in human trafficking in Madre de Dios (Peru). EFE/ CHS Alternativo /EDITORIAL USE ONLY/ ONLY AVAILABLE TO ILLUSTRATE THE NEWS IT ACCOMPANIES (CREDIT OBLIGATORY)

Human trafficking stains Peru’s map

Lima, Sep 23 (EFE).- Buying and selling babies, luring migrant women into prostitution under the false promise of employment, and exploiting impoverished teenagers in harsh mining conditions are different facets of the same problem. Human trafficking is a scourge that tarnishes various aspects of Peruvian society, and this Saturday serves as a reminder that much work is yet to be done.

“Police data proportionally indicate that the most common victims are young and underage females (85.3%), and the primary purpose of exploitation is sexual (83.3%). However, we are observing a rise in cases of labor exploitation,” explains Ricardo Valdés, the executive director of CHS Alternativo, based on official figures from 2017 to 2022.

Valdés details that, according to the explanations provided by the Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding primary recruitment methods, the vast majority of cases involve fraudulent employment offers and deceit.

On the occasion of the National Day for the Fight Against Trafficking, the organization emphasizes that combating this complex crime necessitates a multifaceted strategy, including prevention, prosecution of criminals, victim support, and reintegration into society.

These efforts involve various government sectors, such as the Ministry of Education, Health, Labor, Interior, and Justice, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary, and law enforcement agencies.

Change of Model The map of human trafficking in Peru has become internationalized due to the influx of migrants, primarily from Venezuela, and the increased use of technology among minors, among other factors.

“With the migration phenomenon, over 1,200,000 people from Venezuela entered the country, either formally or informally. This has altered the dynamics of sexual exploitation crimes,” explains Valdés.

He points out that this migration has made more individuals vulnerable to exploitation due to their limited resources and susceptibility to deceit.

Consequently, there has been a change in the routes of trafficking networks and an “internationalization of criminal activity” that now involves multiple countries besides Venezuela.

This phenomenon is attributed to the presence of influential foreign criminal organizations, particularly Brazilian, Ecuadorian, and Colombian gangs, in border regions.

CHS Alternativo has verified instances of forced labor in indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region of Peru, orchestrated by organizations affiliated with drug trafficking, which coerce these populations into working.

Human trafficking is not an isolated crime; it is linked to numerous other offenses, including contract killings and territorial control, which are common in criminal economies.

Another characteristic of the new model is the increased use of technology, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic when all students had to access the internet for their studies.

This has led to a surge in minors being recruited for sexual exploitation, emphasizing the need for monitoring both on the streets and online.

Insufficient Budget While there have been advancements in recent years, such as the growth of specialized prosecutors and a specialized police force dedicated to combating trafficking, as well as centers for underage victims, the expert notes that these efforts cannot succeed without adequate funding.

“In practice, we have a comprehensive regulatory framework, which is essential, but there is no corresponding political commitment from the government,” he says. He emphasizes the disconnect between rhetoric and action.

In addition to prosecuting trafficking crimes at all levels, investments are required for prevention measures to raise awareness among vulnerable individuals, enabling them to identify trafficking situations and report them. Moreover, reintegration centers for victims are essential.

“Over the years, the budget has steadily decreased until it became almost negligible in 2021, with a little over 4 million soles. When divided among the Peruvian population, this amounts to an average of 12 cents per person (3 cents a dollar),” Valdés remarks.

He concludes by stating that if the trafficking model is becoming more complex in remote areas with challenging access, the action model must also undergo radical transformation to combat it. EFE