Cablegate: Colombia's Eight Annual Anti-Trafficking In


DE RUEHBO #0940/01 0702212
P 102212Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A


This report is sensitive but unclassified. Please handle

1. (U) Embassy point of contact on trafficking in persons is
human rights officer Scott Fagan, phone number (57-1)
383-2122, fax number (57-1) 315-2163. Officer spent 48 hours
preparing the report.

2. (U) Responses below are to questions in paragraphs 27-30
of reftel.


3. (SBU) During the reporting period, Colombia's Prosecutor
General opened 182 new investigations of trafficking in
persons, up sharply from 49 last year, but prosecutions fell
from 63 to 44. Six cases resulted in convictions. The
Government of Colombia continued work on the Anti-Trafficking
Operations Center (COAT) in 2007 to serve victims, and
expects to open the center in spring 2008. The GOC sponsored
public campaigns on trafficking prevention and began
implementing the National Integral Strategy for the Fight
Against Trafficking in Persons. End Summary.


27.A. (SBU) Colombia is a significant source of trafficking
victims, primarily women and children destined for sexual
exploitation, according to both Government of Colombia (GOC)
and non-governmental organization (NGO) reports. Some
Colombian men are trafficked for forced labor. Post has
received some unconfirmed reports that human traffickers use
Colombia as a transit country for victims from Ecuador,
possibly other Andean countries, and in some instances China.
Specific cases dealing with victims in transit from China are
also reported. Most trafficking cases never see prosecution
or investigation due to victims failing to report the crime
once they have escaped. Traffickers recruit their Colombian
victims primarily by offers of employment, study, or
marriage, through personal contact and press advertisements.
Post has received reports that criminals in debt to their
organizations will occasionally offer to introduce
traffickers to family members to facilitate recruitment.
Colombian victims are trafficked to Japan, Spain, Ecuador,
Panama, Hong Kong, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Portugal, the
Netherlands, Venezuela, the United States, China, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Peru,
Mexico, Iran, Jordan and Aruba, principally for the purposes
of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and forced servitude
(land or debt peonage, servile marriage). Trafficking also
occurs within Colombia's borders with some human rights
groups reporting that it is worse in areas where terrorist
and criminal groups are active.

The Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia), the Department of
Administrative Security (DAS), the Ministry of Interior and
Justice (MININT), or the Supreme Council of the Judiciary
(Consejo Superior de la Judicatura, or CSJ) provide
information about trafficking in persons. The GOC
Inter-institutional Committee for the Fight against
Trafficking in Persons (ICFTP), established informally in
2003 and formally in 2005, has designed a database to track
and monitor statistics on trafficking cases. The database
was stalled in early 2007 due to hardware and software
problems, but the ICFTP worked with the International Office
on Migration (IOM) to launch the Inter-Institutional Database
Against Trafficking (RITRA). The database, administered by
the Fiscalia, allows the Colombian National Police (CNP), the
Fiscalia, DAS, and the Inspector General's office
(Procuraduria) to share information about traffickers and
victims. IOM and the ICFTP trained officials on the use of
the database in regions identified as vulnerable to
trafficking. In the past, DAS, which has responsibilities
similar to the FBI, had estimated between 45,000-50,000
Colombian women worked as prostitutes overseas, some victims
of trafficking, with an average of 2-10 victims departing the
country per day. Still, the DAS and human rights groups
agree these numbers are impossible to verify. Based on data
collected, children and women tend to be most vulnerable,
especially children between 12-17 years old and women 18-30
years old. Despite advances in information sharing due to
RITRA, data remains incomplete for two reasons. First, gaps
remain in coordination on the tracking of cases. For example,
an arrest made by the DAS for the crime of trafficking may be

later prosecuted by the Fiscalia as organized crime because
trafficking cannot be proven in a court. Secpnd, the GOC
relies heavily on international organizations and NGOs to
initiate contact with victims, who may never report their
case of trafficking as a crime or feel comfortable passing
all their information to the groups involved. Groups most at
risk of being trafficked were displaced people, women in
rural areas, and people whose relatives were members of
criminal organizations.

27.B. (SBU) Colombia remains committed to fighting
trafficking in persons, and has established a comprehensive
inter-agency program to coordinate this fight with
international and human rights groups. In 2005, Colombia
passed Law 985, which criminalized the act of transporting a
person with the goal of exploitation, regardless of whether
the victim had initially given consent to travel. The law
also adopted measures for prevention, protection and
assistance to victims or potential victims; formally
established the ICFTP; increased sentences for those
convicted to between 13 and 23 years in prison and fines
between 800 to 1,500 times the minimum salary; proposed a
national strategy against trafficking in persons;
strengthened units involved in investigating and prosecuting
trafficking crimes; set up a national system of information
on trafficking; and appropriated funds to combat trafficking.
The internal armed conflict in Colombia has impacted
trafficking because it creates displacement, making displaced
persons more vulnerable. Also, internal armed actors and
criminal gangs are responsible for trafficking in arms,
drugs, and people. These actors use both physical and
psychological threats to recruit trafficking victims. While
exact numbers are unknown, it is suspected that internally
displaced people are the most likely victims of trafficking.
According to UNHCHR, 74 percent of the displaced are women
and children, who represent the majority of trafficking
victims in Colombia. The government continued to develop an
action plan for the protection of victims during the course
of the year. The IOM and Colombian NGOs estimate that
international organized crime networks are responsible for
the bulk of transnational trafficking. Other cases, such as
for servile marriage, have been traced to internet dating
services and family exploitation. Internally, organized
crime networks -- some related to foreign terrorist
organizations (FTOs) -- traffic people for sexual
exploitation or organized begging. Human Rights NGOs
estimate children have been forcibly recruited into terrorist
or illegal groups, while the GOC estimates approximately
25,000 are working as sex workers, some of whom are victims
of trafficking. Local criminal gangs traffic many displaced
people for labor exploitation when they arrive at their new
destinations. The Hope Foundation estimates agencies for
employment, travel, and tourism are often either knowingly or
innocently facilitate the trafficking. Some corrupt
government officials are suspected to be involved in
trafficking, especially in providing fraudulent travel
documents. Still, no cases were brought to officials'
attention in 2007. It is suspected that the profits from
trafficking either go to private individuals or to criminal

27.C. (SBU) The Government has six entities that work to
combat trafficking and monitor prosecution, prevention and
victim protection: the MININT which presides over the ICFTP;
DAS, which houses the offices that monitor migration and
coordinate with INTERPOL; the Unit to Combat Trafficking in
Persons, Sexual Violence and Child Victims in the Fiscalia;
the Grupo Humanitas inside the Judicial Police section of the
CNP; the Family Welfare Institute (ICBF); and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA). Fourteen agencies are members of the
ICFTP: MININT, MFA, Ministry of Social Protection (MSP),
Ministry of Education, DAS, the CNP, the Fiscalia, the
Procuraduria, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman
(Defensoria), Interpol, ICBF, the Presidential Advisor for
Equality of Women, The Ministry of Defense organization
FONDELIBERTAD, and the Special Administrative Unit for
Information and Financial Analysis.

27.D. (SBU) The GOC has increased its funding, but it remains
hampered in its fight against trafficking by limited
resources. As a result, it relies heavily on NGOs and
international organizations in the fight against trafficking.
Some NGOs have reported in the past that corruption of
government officials was a problem -- for example, in some
places it is not difficult to fraudulently obtain authentic
documents to conceal a victim's identity for purpose of
travel -- but none considered government corruption to be
endemic. There were no specific corruption cases raised
during the reporting period. NGOs and international
organizations have also worked to establish best practices

within the ICFTP. The GOC gives limited assistance to
victims through shelters, the MININT, the ICBF and the MSP,
but it does not have the funds to provide security to all
victims through the Fiscalia's protection program. Hence, the
Fiscalia often relies on NGOs to serve as the primary conduit
for assistance. The establishment of the COAT expects to
increase the number of victims who wish to press charges by
providing access to justice at the same location as victims
assistance support.

27.E. (SBU) Each GOC entity maintains its own statistics.
Some offices (DAS, MININT and Humanitas) have produced
reports in the past on their work to combat trafficking. The
ICFTP continues to work to implement the GOC policy to combat
trafficking and make its findings on trends in trafficking
known to the public as soon as results of data collected have
been studied. The ICFTP and IOM expect the new RITRA system
to help in identifying trends. The ICFTP, by law, must
prepare reports for Congress.


28.A. (SBU) Law 985, passed on August 26, 2005, is entitled
"For which measures are adopted against trafficking in
persons and norms for the attention and protections of
victims of the same," and prohibits trafficking for any
economic or other benefit, such as sexual exploitation,
prostitution, work or other forced services, slavery or
practices analogous to slavery, forced servitude,
exploitation through mendicancy, servile marriage, the
extraction of organs, sexual tourism, or any other form of
exploitation. The law prohibits internal and transnational
trafficking. The law covers the full scope of trafficking
crimes and is being implemented. Other laws still in effect
that punish trafficking in persons include:

-- Law 599 of 2000, which creates penalties for trafficking
for purposes of prostitution equivalent to those for rape and
sexual assault, carrying penalties of 6 to 8 years in prison
and fines of up to 100 times the monthly minimum wage.

-- Law 747 of July 2002, which broadens the definition of
trafficking in persons and provides for prison sentences
between 10 and 15 years and fines up to 1,000 times the
monthly minimum wage. According to this law, forcing someone
into prostitution is punishable by 5 to 9 years in prison and
a fine of up to 500 times the monthly minimum wage. These
penalties can be increased by up to one-half if the victim is
under 14 years of age, if the criminal planned to take the
victim out of the country, or if the criminal is a family
member. Penalties are also increased by one-third if the
victim is under 18 years of age. Child pornography in any
form is also criminalized with punishments of up to 10 years
in prison and a fine of up to 1,000 times the monthly minimum
salary. These penalties increase by half if the minor is 12
years or younger.

-- Law 890 of 2004, which entered into force on January 1,
2005, further increases the penalties from both Law 599 and
Law 747 to 13 to 23 years in prison and fines of up to 1,500
times the monthly minimum wage. These penalties can increase
by up to one-third if aggravated circumstances exist, such as
if the victim is a minor (less than 18 years of age), the
victim is mentally challenged, or if the trafficker is a
family member or public servant. If the victim is under 12
years of age, the penalty increases by half. Additional
charges of illegal detention, violation of the right to work
in dignified conditions, and violation of personal freedom
can be charged.

-- The Colombian Penal Code of 2000, article 219, which
prohibits organizing or facilitating sexual tourism and
provides penalties of three to eight years' imprisonment.

Colombia has also ratified the following international

-- The ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor,
on January 15, 2005;

-- ILO Convention Number 29, in 1969;

-- ILO Convention 105, in 1963;

-- The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and
Child Pornography, in November 2003; and

-- The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the
UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in
August 2004.

-- The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, in 2006.

28.B. (SBU) Penalties against traffickers are described in
paragraph 29.A.

28.C. (SBU) The Ministry of Social Protection works with
UNICEF and the International Labor Organization to prevent
child labor in the country. The ICBF estimates that of the
2.5 million children under 18 are working in Colombia, only
20 percent of them work legally. Penalties against
traffickers of labor exploitation are included in penalties
in paragraph 29.A

28.D. (SBU) In 2000, Law 599 (see para. 29.A) made the
punishments for trafficking for purposes of prostitution
equivalent to those for rape and sexual assault.

28.E. (SBU) Prostitution by adults is not considered a crime
in Colombia, but the activities of pimps and other enforcers
are criminalized. The legal minimum age for prostitution is
18 years. Prostitution is permitted in
so-called "tolerance zones" in various cities. In these
areas, the Institute of Urban Development monitors
establishments of prostitution. The operation of
prostitution establishments is monitored and operating
without a license is severely punished.

28.F. (SBU) During the reporting period, the ICFTP and the
Fiscalia reported 182 new investigations (83 under the old
legal system, and 99 under the new oral accusatory system).
There were 44 arrests and preventive detentions of
individuals under prosecution awaiting trial. The Fiscalia
reported 6 convictions during the reporting period for
trafficking in persons crimes. Sentences in 3 of the cases
ranged from 4 years to 12 years, and 3 individuals were
awaiting sentencing at year's end. Forced labor and other
forms of exploitation were prosecuted under the laws
described in 29.A. The government actively investigates
trafficking cases. When information is passed regarding a
possible case of trafficking in persons, it is analyzed
according to protocols of investigation under the direction
and coordination of the Fiscalia. The CNP, DAS, and
INTERPOL, which have units dedicated to investigating
trafficking in persons crimes, take the lead in such

28.G. (SBU) The MFA and ICBF provide specialized training to
MFA officials working overseas to help them recognize
potential victims of trafficking and prepare a criminal
report for authorities in Colombia. The training does not
include special sensitivity for child victims. IOM trained
285 officials on specific trafficking issues and provided
awareness-raising training to 30 NGO groups.

28.H. (SBU) The GOC cooperates with other governments in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons. The
GOC cooperates with host country governments where it has
embassies and when victims of trafficking are identified and
request repatriation. Fiscalia and DAS/INTERPOL offices work
with their counterparts in other countries to conduct
investigations. The Fiscalia and DAS worked with Peru, Costa
Rica, Panama, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, the
Philippines, China, and Vietnam on the investigation of
trafficking during the reporting period.

28.I. (SBU) The GOC can extradite persons charged with
trafficking in other countries. The GOC can extradite its
own nationals. However, there were no extraditions for
persons charged with trafficking in the period March
2006-February 2007, and no requests for such extraditions,
according to the MFA.

28.J. (SBU) Government officials neither facilitate nor
condone trafficking in any official capacity.

28.K. (SBU) The GOC investigates all cases of corruption
brought to its attention. Neither the DAS nor the Fiscalia
has received any information about the involvement, or
possible involvement, of government officials in trafficking
in persons. No government officials have been prosecuted for
involvement in trafficking or trafficking-related corruption.
IOM was also not aware of any involvement during the
reporting period.

28.L. (SBU) There were no reports of trafficking by any
Colombian forces deployed abroad.

28.M. (SBU) The Colombian Penal Code of 2000 prohibits
organizing or facilitating sexual tourism and provides
penalties of three to eight years' imprisonment. The Penal
Code does not have extraterritorial coverage. The Penal Code
does not differentiate between sexual tourism for the purpose
of relations with children or adults. During the reporting
period, the Government did not investigate, prosecute, or
deport/extradite any foreign pedophiles.


29.A. (SBU) Since Colombia is primarily a source and transit
country, there is no demand for provision of temporary or
permanent residency status or relief from deportation.

29.B. (SBU) Colombia is not a destination country. Colombia
does not have specially-designated victim care or victim
health care facilities. Foreign victims have the same access
to care as domestic victims. In both domestic and
international cases, MININT is responsible for providing safe
passage for victims to return to their homes, lodging if
needed, medical and psychological attention, access to
financial and employment assistance, and information and
legal support for the entire judicial process. The ICBF
provides legal, medical, and psychological services for child
victims in Colombia, the majority of whom are trafficked
internally. MININT maintains a close relationship with The
Hope Foundation and The Rebirth Foundation because victims
often prefer to approach a private organization rather than a
government office. ICFTP is finalizing plans for the COAT,
scheduled to open in Spring 2008, that will serve as a
central repository of assistance information,
anti-trafficking programming, and a call-center for
trafficking assistance and prevention.

29.C. (SBU) The GOC has increased its funding to NGOs in
excess of USD 50,000 to provide food, shelter, and clothing
for victims under 18. The GOC also maintains a close
relationship with the IOM and NGOs like The Hope Foundation
and provides them information on cases related to victims or
potential victims of trafficking in persons domestically and

29.D. (SBU) The national call center, established by IOM, and
handed over to the GOC in 2007, received 11,306 calls during
the reporting period. According to both the GOC and IOM,
many of the victims, though referred to the appropriate
authority for their case, did not formally report their cases
to the GOC, making assessing numbers of victims difficult.
The Defensoria worked to develop an early warning alert
system similar to those for displacement to focus on
vulnerable areas for trafficking. The Fiscalia also formed a
program entitled "Futuro Colombia" to work to identify and
prevent future trafficking victims.

29.E. (SBU) The Government did not have a mechanism in place
to screen for trafficking victims amongst legalized
prostitution establishments.

29.F. (SBU) Victims rights are respected and victims are not
detained or jailed. Victims are not prosecuted or fined for
violations of other laws, such as prostitution.

29.G. (SBU) The GOC encourages victims to assist in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking. The right of
victims to seek civil action against their traffickers is not
impeded. The COAT, which will open in spring 2008, will
serve as a centralized access point to justice for victims.
However, many victims, fearing for their own safety or that
of their families, are often reluctant to come forward.
Colombia does not have a victim restitution program, but NGOs
have programs to help victims reintegrate into society.

29.H. (SBU) The government provides protection to victims and
witnesses through the Fiscalia. The program is activated
when (a) a victim or witness files charges (i.e., they submit
a complaint to a competent legal authority) against an
alleged trafficker, and (b) after an investigation, the
complaint is found to have enough merit to warrant the
Fiscalia bringing criminal charges against the alleged
trafficker. The program includes provision of secure housing
and an economic stipend for the victim or witness. As
agreement for participation in the program, the victim or
witness must agree not to leave the housing where they have
been placed. The GOC does not provide shelter directly to

trafficking victims, but it does help victims find housing.
The GOC relies on NGOs, such as IOM and the Hope Foundation,
for most victims services.

29.I. (SBU) Overseas, Colombian consulates are supposed to
provide legal and social assistance to Colombian citizens in
need, including victims of trafficking. The GOC has
contracted legal advisors and social workers to help support
Colombians abroad. However, this type of assistance can only
be provided in consular districts with at least 10,000
resident Colombians. The assistance of the MFA and/or the
Embassy begins the moment information is provided by a family
member or friend in Colombia or the victim gets in touch with
the Embassy. The Embassy then coordinates with host
government authorities to provide immediate protection.
Please see paragraph 30.D. for NGO specialized training of
GOC officials.

29.J. (SBU) Please see paragraphs 28.G., 29.I. and 30.D.

29.K. (SBU) The principal organizations that work with
victims of trafficking are the IOM, The Hope Foundation, and
The Rebirth Foundation. The level of cooperation received by
the organizations from the GOC is good in most respects, with
occasional operational difficulties on joint projects noted
by some NGOs. The IOM and The Hope Foundation have provided
short-term assistance to trafficking victims, including
educational information, social support, and counseling. The
IOM also provided victims with job training and employment
opportunities through various programs, and helped victims
obtain medical and psychological care. The Rebirth
Foundation continues its work to contribute to the
eradication of the sexual exploitation of children and
adolescents. Its current activities include outreach work,
education, health care and activity-based workshops in a
variety of areas, and long-term shelters which help to adapt
children to the routines of living in a house with others and
encourages social integration and friendship. Vocational
skills, educational training, and therapy are also provided.


30.A. (SBU) The GOC acknowledges that trafficking is a
problem in Colombia.

30.B. (SBU) In 2007, the Government supported IOM public
campaigns on trafficking prevention. The campaign advertised
a national hot line to prevent trafficking and report
violators, supported by IOM but turned over officially to the
GOC during the year. The MININT also launched a public
information campaign entitled "The Fight Against Trafficking
in Persons, the next victim could be you." The GOC, IOM, as
well as other NGOs and civil society organizations hosted
anti-trafficking websites with public information on what
services were available to victims of trafficking (including
the sites The IOM, the UN
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and several NGOs conducted
informational campaigns to target potential victims and raise
awareness. For example, the IOM continued to place large
posters in airports, bus stations, foreign consulates, and
travel agencies as well as professionally producing public
service announcements on radio and television.

30.C. (SBU) The GOC maintains an open dialogue with NGOs,
relevant organizations and
elements of civil society on trafficking. Some NGOs and civil
society organizations have requested more formal
participation in the process, but the IOM and UNODC actively
participate in policy dialogue.

30.D. (SBU) The IOM continued to train Colombian passport
officials and immigration officials from Colombia and foreign
embassies to detect patterns of trafficking, with special
emphasis on border areas in Ecuador and Panama. Since
Colombia is primarily a source or transit country, officials
are more sensitized in detecting potential victims who are
departing rather than arriving, though an increase in
Ecuadorian laborers has been noted over the year. The Hope
Foundation in particular has continued to aggressively target
airport officials and related travel companies to raise
sensitivity about trafficking victims.

30.E. (SBU) The mechanism for GOC coordination is the ICFTP.
The MININT presides over the ICFTP. The GOC does not have a
public corruption task force, but there are internal affairs
offices within the Fiscalia and the CNP. The Defensoria has
the authority to conduct disciplinary investigations in every
government entity.

30.F. (SBU) Law 985 establishes the responsibility of the
ICFTP to create a national action plan to address trafficking
in persons. The fourteen member agencies of the ICFTP (see
para. 27.C) developed the plan with participation of civil
society and NGOs. The ICFTP worked to integrate
anti-trafficking issues into the National Plan of Development
(2007-2010) and included anti-trafficking language in the
National Strategy Against the Prevention and Eradication of
the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Implementation of the
National Integral Strategy for the Fight against Trafficking
in Persons plan began in 2007.

30.G. (SBU) There are no major campaigns underway against
commercial sex acts. The Colombian Congress is debating a
law to further criminalize sexual exploitation of children
with a focus on demand.

30.H. (SBU) Not applicable to Colombia.

30.I. (SBU) Not applicable to Colombia.

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