Bolivian campaign against human trafficking

In 2013, the number of human trafficking cases reported in Bolivia was more than 10 times higher than nine years ago, raising questions as to whether this represents a growth in criminal activity or an increase in the reporting of the crime.

Statistics by the Bolivian police show that in 2005 only 35 trafficking cases were reported in the country, while in 2013 this had shot up to 363, reported La Razon. Nonetheless, this number was down by around 20 percent from 2012, in which 456 cases were opened.

According to La Razon, a grave concern for the Bolivian government is that there have still not been any prosecutions for trafficking cases.

The director general of the human trafficking division of the Bolivian Interior Ministry, Freddy Cayo, attributed the growing trend to citizens shedding their fear of reporting such cases, rather than a rapid upsurge in the crime.

Cayo also told La Razon that before the 2012 Law Against Human Trafficking incorporated the illegal practice into Bolivia's Criminal Code, trafficking was recorded as a "violation of rights, kidnapping or disappearance." Now, depending on the type of crime, traffickers can now get prison sentences from five to 15 years.

The majority of victims are between the ages of 12 and 24, and are trafficked to Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Most men are used in forced labor, while women are sexually exploited, according to La Razon.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia is a source and transit country for both domestic and international human trafficking. A large amount of victims are foreigners passing through the country, while other Bolivian nationals are trafficked to Spain, the United States and nearby countries such Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina.

The country's trafficking rate per 100,000 citizens reached 3.1 in 2009 -- far above the other regional figures reported by the United Nations Development Program (pdf).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking

However, what is unclear is whether the rise in recent years is as a result of changes to the legal code and measures to promote awareness such as public service announcements and police-run school programs, or whether it is a sign of criminal groups increasing trafficking activities.

Although La Razon specifies that no trafficking cases have led to prosecutions so far, the US State Department's most recent Trafficking in Persons Report (pdf) states that four sex traffickers and one labor trafficker were convicted in 2012, with nine other offenders convicted in 2011.

Nonetheless, these figures remain low given the abundance of cases, demonstrating how Bolivia lacks effective enforcement and prosecution to deal with these networks. According to Cayo, "Of the 255 cases [30 percent of all cases] in La Paz alone, many aren't even advancing."

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...