The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, although services for some groups remained limited. Police reported identification of 428 potential victims in 2021, compared with 640 potential victims in 2020 and 1,054 in 2019. These victims included 261 women, 77 girls, 57 men, and 33 boys. The identification of adult male victims was noteworthy, as police did not identify any men exploited in trafficking in 2020. Police identified at least 54 women (49) and girls (5) from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain who were exploited in trafficking in Peru. Specialized prosecutors identified 373 victims in 2021, compared with 470 in 2020 and 1,266 in 2019. The government did not report the extent to which victim identification statistics overlapped between police and prosecutors. Police received 68 complaints of alleged trafficking crimes to the government’s trafficking hotline during the first six months of 2021; the Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported the complaints included seven cases of alleged forced labor, 35 of alleged sex trafficking, and 26 where the type of exploitation was not specified. Two Peruvian victims of trafficking were identified in Ecuador and one in Chile; Peruvian officials provided support to these victims abroad and assisted with their repatriation to Peru.
The anti-trafficking law required the government to proactively identify victims among high-risk populations and provide services including temporary lodging, transportation, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, and reintegration support. The government had an intersectoral protocol for providing protection to trafficking victims, and multiple ministries had internal protocols for victim identification and care, but authorities implemented them unevenly due to insufficient financial and human resources and coordination challenges. Police and prosecutors did not effectively identify indicators of trafficking among women in commercial sex. With support from an international organization, Lima’s municipal public security forces developed standardized procedures for identifying and referring potential trafficking victims to services. The government offered specialized trafficking victim services for girls exploited in sex trafficking, while other victims could access services for victims of gender-based violence or other forms of government and NGO support. Authorities referred all child victims to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), which coordinated shelter or family care and provided legal, social services, psychological, and limited reintegration assistance to victims. MIMP operated specialized units in all regions of the country for assisting children in need of special protection, including all child trafficking victims; in 2020, MIMP created new regional units, bringing the total to 26 across Peru. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims these units assisted or the number of victims referred to specialized shelters in 2021. In 2020, these units assisted 223 child victims (204 Peruvian, 15 Venezuelan, two Ecuadorian, and two Colombian), including 96 girls authorities referred to specialized trafficking victim shelters, and in 2019, the units assisted 130 child victims, including 114 girls authorities referred to specialized shelters. With support from an international organization, the Ministry of Health developed and approved new guidelines for providing comprehensive mental health care to child trafficking survivors.
The Public Ministry’s Victim and Witness Assistance Unit (UDAVIT) provided short-term care and essential supplies for victims immediately following some law enforcement operations and coordinated with other government agencies to provide medical, legal, and social services to victims. Insufficient funding and a lack of training on victim-centered methods limited UDAVIT’s capacity to provide consistent, high-quality care to victims, and NGO assistance was needed to supplement UDAVIT’s efforts. Local experts reported UDAVIT sometimes made services contingent on victims providing statements to investigators or questioned children without the presence of legal or social support personnel. In some regions, UDAVIT operated emergency spaces that could provide short- term accommodation to women and children who were participating in investigations and prosecutions.
MIMP operated seven specialized shelters exclusively for girls exploited in sex trafficking (including some whom authorities classified as sexual exploitation victims) in five regions (Cusco, Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno); in total, these facilities could accommodate 130 children. However, the government temporarily converted one facility into a shelter for victims of other crimes, decreasing the overall shelter capacity for child trafficking victims to approximately 120. Services and staffing in the shelters were generally robust, with the inclusion of a full-time attorney, medical personnel, and psychologist. Due to the pandemic, however, shelters restricted access to non-residents, which limited the in-person services available to victims. Shelter staff facilitated counseling sessions, legal services, and victims’ communication with families via phone or online platforms. In coordination with an NGO, the government provided several mentoring and training sessions for staff in specialized shelters. MIMP also operated 52 residential centers for children that could accommodate child trafficking victims, including boys, but these shelters were not exclusively for human trafficking victims, and they were not equipped to provide specialized psychological and protection services to meet the needs of child trafficking survivors. Women could access legal, psychological, and social services—but not overnight accommodation—through MIMP’s nationwide network of 429 Emergency Centers for Women, but the government did not collect data on the number of trafficking victims the centers assisted. Numerous civil society organizations provided assistance to trafficking victims, including two NGOs that were members of the government’s multisectoral commission against trafficking, and approximately 70 private shelters accepted trafficking victims.
Adult victims, labor trafficking victims, and male victims had few shelter options; there were no shelters that accepted adult men. A lack of services meeting the needs of adult victims, such as open shelter facilities or livelihood development support, led many adult victims to decline services. The government provided limited access to services for LGBTQI+ victims; authorities frequently discriminated against LGBTQI+ individuals and typically did not admit transgender victims to government shelters. The government acknowledged inequity in service provision to LGBTQI+ victims, particularly transgender children. Foreign victims were generally eligible for the same services as Peruvian victims, but the government did not specify whether it referred any foreign victims to government shelters. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a seminar on protection for national and foreign trafficking victims for staff posted in Peru and in more than 70 Peruvian foreign missions around the world. Government presence remained weak or absent in large parts of Peru where trafficking risks were high, including in the Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno regions, as well as the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), leaving victims with limited access to justice or protection.
Criminal justice officials often did not employ victim-centered methods, and at times, they conducted anti-trafficking operations without adequate resources, such as vehicles to transport victims or safe places to screen potential victims, isolate them from suspects, and provide immediate care. Police and prosecutors reported many victim services were not available following law enforcement operations on nights and weekends. At times when shelters were not immediately available, authorities placed child victims in police stations among children apprehended for crimes, where victims faced conditions similar to detention while waiting for referral to shelter. However, the government made meaningful efforts to incorporate trauma-informed and victim-centered principles into its policy and procedural documents and to seek training for its officials to improve their knowledge and response to providing victim care.
The government assigned victims a legal advocate from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to safeguard their legal rights and guide them through the legal system after authorities initiated a prosecution. The government had 336 legal advocates, including nine that specialized in trafficking. LGBTQI+ individuals experienced discrimination from law enforcement and were often re-victimized during the criminal justice process. Law enforcement officials utilized secure Gesell chambers to conduct a single interview for sex trafficking victims. During the pandemic, authorities created a system to adapt the protection measures provided by Gesell chambers to online platforms, and officials used this system during virtual proceedings. A lack of incentives to participate in investigations and limited access to practical services, such as alternative livelihood development, led many adult victims to decline government services. Officials cited the lack of adequate protective services as a key impediment to their ability to effectively combat trafficking in Peru, and insufficient services left some groups at high risk of re-trafficking.
The March 2021 updates to the penal code established minimum criteria a judge should consider when awarding compensation to trafficking victims and granted authority for the government to confiscate a trafficker’s property to fulfill payment obligations. However, the government did not report whether any courts ordered, or victims received, compensation in 2021. The government reported assisting foreign trafficking victims in the removal of fines or other penalties they may have incurred from undocumented entry. However, due to inadequate victim identification procedures, particularly among individuals involved in commercial sex, authorities may have penalized some unidentified trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. Foreign victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, but the government did not report whether it granted any trafficking victims residency during the year.