Argentina: The State and white slave traffic

Mercedes_Assorati

Upon a call by local civil-society organizations, over a thousand people gathered together last May 12-13 in Villa Maria City (Cordoba province) to demand an end to white salve traffic.

They issued a strong declaration indicating that the Ministry of Justice mechanism to combat traffic and assist victims is far from effective, as it is made up of officials who have been collaborating with traffic networks and/or performing very poorly.

The document also voices concern over the fact that most victimizers have managed to go unpunished. Out of 2,000 cases, only 20 victimizers have been prosecuted, and no civil servant has ever been condemned.

Mercedes Assorati, general coordinator of El Otro Foundation’s Program against White Slave Traffic, told SEMlac that such a situation clearly shows that the State is not dealing with highly profitable organized crime in an appropriate manner.

“Most of these people have not been recognized as traffic victims, although they were being forced to work at brothels in Buenos Aires and other cities,” she added.

The declaration asks to apply comprehensive victim protection and assistance standards, and set up a new mechanism for victim identification and social reintegration.

It also calls for the establishment of a risk assessment and victim protection committee composed of NGO representatives.

She indicated that many victims have been returned to their places of origin without any evaluation and protection measure by the State. NGOs are demanding that the State should at least give each victim 200 pesos (around 49 dollars) as initial aid.

“We want to monitor and follow-up State actions in this regard, including police searching operations. We have asked the State to conduct MP fact-finding missions on a regular basis,” she stressed.

The document requests to impose tough sanctions on those involved in human trafficking and to protect individual identity. The genetic databank plays a key role in this connection.

Some figures

The Office for White Slave Traffic Victims under the umbrella of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights recently announced that a total of 953 victims had been freed in the January-April 2011 period, as compared to only 569 in 2010.

A total of 911 actions had been implemented in the August 2008-April 2011 period, leading to the arrest of 767 victimizers and the release of 2,130 victims, including 1,827 adults and 303 children.

Out of this total, 1,166 people were involved in forced labor and 964 in sexual exploitation.

There were around 500,000 traffic victims in 2006, according to El Otro Foundation estimates.

Around 75 percent of newborns and small children who are given in adoption are kidnapped in north-eastern provinces such as Chaco, Formosa, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Misiones, Santa Fe and Santiago del Estero, and in the Andean region.

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