Human trafficking is a growing problem in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that contains major source, transit, and destination countries for trafficking victims. Major forms of TIP in the region include commercial sexual exploitation of women and children, labor trafficking within national borders and among countries in the region (particularly in South America), and the trafficking of illegal immigrants in Mexico and Central America. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the share of victims trafficked for forced labor outside the commercial sex industry in Latin America (44%) is higher than in Europe and Central Asia. The two countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with the largest percentages of their populations subjected to “modern slavery,” a term associated with human trafficking, are Haiti and the Dominican Republic, according to the Walk Free Foundation.
It is often difficult to measure success in the fight against human trafficking. Many countries in Latin America have reported increases in the number of training courses provided, conferences held, and workshops convened as evidence of their commitment to combat human trafficking. However, as stated in the 2009 TIP report, the State Department prefers countries to focus on “concrete actions” when determining the adequacy of a particular country’s anti-TIP efforts. Concrete actions include enacting new or amended TIP legislation; expanding victim assistance and prevention programs; and, perhaps most importantly, securing prosecutions, convictions, and prison sentences for TIP offenders.
Although many countries in Latin America have passed or amended their existing TIP laws, until very recently, the number of TIP-related arrests, prosecutions, and convictions remained low in comparison to other regions. Some have questioned the adequacy of the State Department’s indicators. They maintain that more credit should be given to countries that are seeking to address the underlying factors that put people at risk for trafficking, such as gender and racial discrimination, violence against women and children, and economic inequality.
|Country:||United States of America|
|Institution:||Congressional Research Service |
|Author:||Clare Ribando Seelke|