Colombia needs more prosecutors to fight human trafficking
By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Colombia needs to train more prosecutors to identify and investigate human trafficking cases, boost low conviction rates and tackle a problem that remains largely invisible, the country’s top watchdog said.
Colombian adults and children are trafficked for sex outside and within the country, mainly in tourist cities along the Caribbean coast. It is also a source and destination for forced labor, including domestic workers and those in mining and agriculture.
So far this year, the interior ministry has handled 41 cases of external human trafficking, including Colombian women forced into sexual exploitation in Mexico, Indonesia and China.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as fear of reprisal, lengthy police investigations, and a lack of awareness prevent victims reporting the crimes to authorities, said Martha Diaz, the head of the government’s anti-trafficking group at the interior ministry.
“Some people don’t know they’ve been victims of trafficking; others have been recruited and trafficked by family members, who can also be victims of trafficking, so sometimes victims don’t want to get involved in judicial investigations,” Diaz told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
“One of the difficulties facing Colombia and other countries is that it takes a long time to investigate and prosecute transnational human trafficking. It requires cooperation between different countries, which have different laws on trafficking.”
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