Cablegate: Argentina: 2009 Tip Interim Assessment Response
DE RUEHBU #1302/01 3342221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 302219Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0117
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001302
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KCRM KTIP KWMN SMIG AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: 2009 TIP Interim Assessment Response
REF: STATE 110433
1. Per Reftel instructions, below is post's interim assessment of
Argentina's progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in
persons (TIP). Our response is keyed to points found in reftel.
A) Implementing the new anti-trafficking law:
As of August 21, 2009, coordination for the Office for Rescue and
Caring of Victims of Trafficking falls under the Secretary of
Justice within the Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights.
The Office is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of
specialists from all security forces, psychologists, social
workers, policy experts, doctors, and lawyers. As a result of this
coordination, psychologists, social workers, and policy experts are
included in law enforcement raids or immediately included in cases
where a victim has managed to escape and goes to the authorities.
This assists in the identification of victims and enables the
authorities to provide the physical and mental support they need.
Shelter for rescued victims is coordinated through the Office, and
psychologists remain with victims throughout the process -
including for initial interviews and legal testimony. After
providing video testimony (so that the victim will not have to face
the trafficker), the victim is assisted by programs geared toward
victims of trafficking and child sex exploitation run by the
Ministry of Social Development.
According to the Specialized Prosecutors' Office for the
Investigation of Kidnapping and Trafficking in Persons crimes
(UFASE), lack of action by municipal governments regarding the
enforcement of a 1932 federal law prohibiting brothels is directly
connected with the core of the trafficking problem. In May, Santa
Rosa municipality in La Pampa province ordered the closure of
brothels and night bars in order to combat trafficking in persons.
B) Intensifying law enforcement efforts to dismantle trafficking
While the statistics are not broken down in a manner that would
enable us to single out arrests and rescues specifically during the
interim reporting period, from the enactment of the law on
trafficking on April 28, 2008 until the end of October 2009, there
have been 319 raids resulting in 344 arrests; 190 of the raids have
occurred since January 1, 2009, resulting in 199 arrests. In the
same time periods 488 trafficking victims have been rescued (359
adults, 129 minors); 331 of those have been rescued since January
1, 2009 (258 adults, 73 minors).
C) Increasing judicial and prosecutorial efforts to investigate,
prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including
corrupt officials who may facilitate or be involved with
On November 27 in Santa Fe province, Julia Nunez was sentenced to
10 years in jail in Argentina's first conviction for human
trafficking. As a result of testimony during the trial,
prosecutors have decided to investigate two more individuals in
relation to the case. Another TIP case was scheduled to begin in
Eldorado City, Misiones province on November 25.
According to the Federal Office of Rescue and Support to Victims of
Trafficking, courts initiated 318 TIP case; 8 of which are
scheduled for oral trial (meaning that a lower court has already
determined there are sufficient grounds to prosecute). Partial
statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in
Misiones province in late July indicated there were 33 individuals
indicted for TIP nationwide - 15 in Buenos Aires province, 10 in
Misiones, 6 in the city of Buenos Aires, 1 in Salta, and 1 in
Corrientes. According UFASE chief Marcelo Colombo, that number had
increased to 34 by mid-November.
On August 11, Prosecutor General Esteban Righi approved a
standardized protocol for the investigation of TIP cases, a set of
guidelines drafted by UFASE and the Specialized Prosecutors' Office
for the Integral Assistance to Victims of Crime (OFAVI). This
protocol helps orientate federal prosecutors' work when
investigating human trafficking cases and interviewing the victims,
taking appropriate action to secure private interviews, with the
presence of a multi-professional group of experts. The protocol
provides guidelines for identifying trafficking cases throughout
all their stages: recruitment, transportation, receiving, lodging,
and exploitation of victims.
On August 24, Prosecutor General Righi signed a resolution
instructing federal prosecutors to seek the closure of all
brothels. Righi also instructed prosecutors to request judges of
TIP cases involving sexual exploitation seize control of the
location in question, holding the premises as property bond until
the case is decided by the judiciary, thus preventing the
resumption of operations with new potential victims. He also urged
the Justice Minister and the Interior Minister to take appropriate
action to help provinces and municipalities bring their legislation
into compliance. Additionally, Righi ordered prosecutors to
identify and press charges against any officials that may have
participated in or covered up TIP crimes.
In late May a Federal Court of Appeals in Mar del Plata, Buenos
Aires province, ruled that TIP victims cannot provide consent when
their social or economic background limits free choice. In the
case decided, the court determined that despite the Paraguayan and
Dominican girls' consent to work as prostitutes, their living
conditions demonstrated they were kept as slaves rather than sexual
workers, and therefore their original consent could not be
D) Increasing investigations of forced labor and domestic
The National Migrations Office under the Ministry of the Interior
reported that in the city of Buenos Aires alone, they carried out
11,076 inspections during the year to monitor living and working
conditions of migrants residing in the country, far surpassing the
906 inspections performed during 2008.
E) Dedicating more resources for victims assistance:
Trafficking victims' needs are attended to by the Office for Rescue
and Caring of Victims of Trafficking - including food and clothing.
Shelter is coordinated between the Office and local authorities.
In some cases, NGOs run shelters that are operated with local
government financing. A soon-to-open shelter in Cordoba province
will benefit from training and technical assistance provided by the
Maria de los Angeles Foundation. The Stop Trafficking and Human
Smuggling NGO (RATT)signed an agreement with the City of Buenos
Aires to run a shelter for minors who are victims of TIP; the
location is currently being renovated and authorities hope to have
it open by February 2010. A shelter run by the Maria de los
Angeles Foundation in Tucuman was up and running prior to this
F) Sustaining anti-trafficking training for law enforcement,
judges, and other public officials, including labor inspectors.
The Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights provides ongoing
training to officials and law enforcement officers through its
"Victims against Violence Program." During the year, the following
training seminars took place:
- "Prevention and Combat of Human Trafficking Seminar"
addressed to law enforcement agents in the provinces of Misiones,
Salta, and Santa Cruz.
- TIP training for judges and prosecutors in Santa Fe
province conducted by experts in the Office for Rescue and Support
of Victims of Human Trafficking and the UFASE.
- Seminar on TIP and Victims Assistance addressed to
police agents and other law enforcement officials in Formosa
province by the Office for Rescue and Support of Victims of Human
Trafficking, the Secretariat of Interior Security and the National
- Participation of the "Victims against Violence program"
at the first Regional Seminar on Trafficking in the framework of
the XXI Specialized Meeting of Women in MERCOSUR which took place
in Asuncion, Paraguay, in May.
- Seminar on Prevention and Fight against Trafficking in
Persons for law enforcement agents hosted jointly by the Victims
against Violence program and the Government of Santa Cruz province
- With USG support, in September the NGO Unidos por la
Justicia trained 30 judges and prosecutors with trainers from other
NGOs observing. Additionally, since May 2009, NGO Maria de los
Angeles Foundation has trained 300 police officers and will be
training another 100 by the end of December 2009.
G) Improving data collection on trafficking:
The Federal Office for Rescue and Support of Victims of Human
Trafficking collects information and produces statistical reports
regarding raids or action on trafficking cases by all four federal
law enforcement agencies: the Federal Police, the Border Patrol
Office, the National Coast Guard, and the Police for Airport
Security through a centralized database. The Office shares these
reports with the federal courts. The database is for internal use
of the Office only.
The National Migration Office (NMO) signed agreements with the
General Prosecutor's Office and some provincial judicial branches
to make their database available to prosecutors and judges. In the
coming months, the NMO is scheduled to sign a similar agreement
with the National Supreme Court. The "sistema integral de captura
migratoria" (integral system for migration register) database is a
cross-reference database developed to provide information about the
entry, exit, and movement of people; the means of transportation
used; prior administrative or judicial records the person may have;
and the names of people accompanying the individual when entering
or exiting the country. All information is available for
prosecutors and judges.
H) Other significant developments:
On November 26, the City of Buenos Aires passed a law making
March 26-April 3 the "Week for the Fight against Trafficking." The
dates were selected to coincide with the anniversaries of a fire in
a clandestine factory that resulted in the death of a woman and
four children who were victims of forced labor (March 26) and the
disappearance of Marita Veron on April 3, 2002 (believed to be a
victim of sexual trafficking). The goal of the week is to raise
public awareness of human trafficking issues.