The government maintained strong protection efforts, with CICESCT’s IRT providing robust assistance to victims throughout the year. The government identified 101 trafficking victims in 2021, including 48 exploited in sex trafficking and 53 exploited in forced labor. In comparison, the government identified 42 victims (31 in sex trafficking and 11 in forced labor) in 2020; the government identified 75 victims (66 in sex trafficking and nine in forced labor), and NGOs identified 78 victims in 2019. Government-identified sex trafficking victims included 35 girls, 11 women, and two boys, while forced labor victims included 22 women, 14 men, nine boys, six girls, and two LGBTQI+ persons whose gender and age were not specified. These data may have included some victims of related crimes such as child pornography. NGOs identified three additional women exploited in sex trafficking.
First responders referred trafficking victims to CICESCT’s IRT, composed of two psychologists and two social workers, for immediate support; in January 2022, CICESCT hired an attorney to join the IRT. The IRT provided all 101 victims with assistance, including legal advice, immediate protection, and psychological services. CICESCT coordinated with relevant government institutions and NGOs to provide additional services to victims, including mental health counseling, legal services, medical care, lodging, food, family reintegration, and repatriation. Officials reported CICESCT met with other agencies more than 120 times to coordinate services for victims. CICESCT coordinated with the Ministry of Health to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccination to victims. CICESCT referred 12 sex trafficking victims (eight girls and four women) and 29 labor trafficking victims (15 women, eight men, two girls, two boys, and two LGBTQI+ individuals whose gender and age were not specified) to government and NGO shelters for additional care. Child victims could receive care from government or NGO shelters, and women had the option to receive assistance from NGO shelters. At times, the government or NGOs arranged lodging in hotels for adult male victims. There were no specialized shelters for trafficking victims in Honduras, men were not accepted in any shelters, and services for victims in rural areas were limited in quality and availability.
With support from a donor-funded NGO and input from survivors, the government developed and began implementing a victim assistance manual with SOPs for the proactive identification of victims among members of at-risk groups and interagency coordination procedures for referring victims to services. To supplement the manual, authorities created an assistance plan that detailed victims’ basic and urgent needs, including specialized assistance and support for healing from trauma. These resources supplemented the government’s intersectoral protocol on victim protection and existing written procedures for identifying victims and referring them to care. The new victim assistance manual included strengthened procedures to screen for indicators of trafficking among underserved populations, including individuals with disabilities, Indigenous and Afro-descendant persons, LGBTQI+ individuals, and persons forcibly displaced due to violence or environmental disasters. CICESCT and the anti-trafficking prosecution unit each operated trafficking-specific hotlines. The CICESCT hotline received 32 reports of suspected trafficking cases and 286 calls requesting information, and NGOs reported two cases directly to CICESCT.
With funding from international organizations, the Government of Honduras’ National Directorate for Child and Family Services (DINAF) employed 13 child protection officers, working across six land border ports of entry and the child and family migrant reception center in San Pedro Sula, to interview all returning migrant children and their families. Child protection officers followed procedures to assist children determined to be at-risk of exploitation and to refer potential trafficking cases to law enforcement officials for investigation. The government did not report whether officials identified any trafficking victims among returning migrants during the year. The government followed a regional protocol to facilitate the repatriation of victims identified abroad and funded food, transportation, and lodging for such victims through a fund administered by the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. In 2021, the government repatriated and assisted 20 Honduran victims identified in other countries.
The government initially allocated 6.74 million lempiras ($277,890) to CICESCT but later redirected some funds to pandemic relief efforts, decreasing its actual disbursement to 6.13 million lempiras ($252,540). This amount was comparable to 6.18 million lempiras ($254,800) provided in 2020 and an increase from the pre-pandemic budget allocation of 5.53 million ($228,000) in 2019. CICESCT provided 150,000 lempiras ($6,180) to an NGO operating a shelter that accommodated women, girls, and boys up to the age of 12; this amount was nearly double the funding it provided in 2020 (77,000 lempiras or $3,170). Nonetheless, officials reported that donor assistance was integral to their efforts, as government funding was insufficient to provide comprehensive victim care, purchase personal protective equipment for victims, and implement the NAP.
The government provided witness protection services to some victims participating in investigations or prosecutions. Authorities permitted victims to provide testimony through written statements or pre-recorded interviews in one of its four secure Gesell chambers. IRT members accompanied victims throughout their participation in the criminal justice process and referred some victims to legal aid services for additional assistance. Honduran law prohibited the prosecution of victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. However, the government lacked formal procedures for identifying victims among children apprehended for gang-related criminal activity. NGOs reported authorities did not properly identify children forced to engage in illegal activities by criminal groups, reporting that the government may have inappropriately treated such children as criminals instead of victims. Honduran law allowed foreign victims to receive temporary or permanent residency status, including authorization to work, though the government did not identify any foreign victims in 2021.