wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2005-03-09 13:27:00
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 BOGOTA 002266 




E.O. 12958: N/A


This report is sensitive but unclassified. Please handle

1. (U) Embassy point of contact on trafficking in persons is
human rights officer Kiersten Stiansen, phone number (571)
383-2122, fax number (571) 315-2163. Officer spent 55 hours
preparing report.

2. (U) Responses are keyed to questions as noted in
paragraphs 18-21 of reftel.




3.A. (SBU) Colombia is a significant source of trafficking
victims, especially women and children destined for sexual
exploitation. Colombia's Administrative Department of
Security (DAS), which has responsibilities similar to the FBI
and ICE, estimates 45,000-50,000 Colombian women work as
prostitutes overseas. According to the DAS, Colombia is the
third most common country of origin of trafficking victims in
the Western Hemisphere, and every day between 2 and 10
Colombian women leaving the country are victims of
trafficking. Some Colombian men are trafficked for forced
labor. There is also internal trafficking of women for
sexual exploitation, especially by the FARC terrorist
organization, and forced conscription into terrorist groups.
Female trafficking victims are at a high risk for sexually
transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and forced
abortions. In 2004, the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) was informed of 141 cases of trafficking in
persons. Colombian missions abroad alerted IOM to nine

B. (SBU) According to IOM, most trafficking victims go to
Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Panama, Chile, and Ecuador. The
primary trafficking routes to Europe remain through Paris and
Madrid. The main routes to Japan are via Paris, Madrid, or
Miami. Colombia is also used as a transit point for
trafficking victims from other countries, usually from South
America. Trafficking victims come from the major cities
(Bogota, Medellin), the Caribbean Coast (Barranquilla and
Cartagena), Valle del Cauca and Norte de Santander
departments, and the departments of the so-called "Coffee
Zone" (Risaralda, Caldas, and Quindio). Internal trafficking
also occurs, with victims brought from small towns and rural
areas to large urban centers with active sex industries,
including Bogota, Medellin, Cali, and Cartagena.

C. (SBU) According to IOM, the Netherlands is no longer one
of the major destination countries for Colombian victims. As
a result of information campaigns and increased education on
the problem of trafficking in persons by international
organizations and local NGOs, in coordination with the GOC,
DAS/Interpol has noticed an increased knowledge and awareness
of the problem among the general population.

D. (SBU) The Inspector General's Office ("Procuraduria") is
working to increase its efforts to understand the places of
origin, transit, and destination in international and
internal trafficking in persons. The Rebirth Foundation
("Renacer"), in coordination with the National Human Rights
Ombudsman's Office ("Defensoria del Pueblo"), the Bogota
Chamber of Commerce, and the Government's Institute for
Family Welfare (ICBF), has carried out research into the
sexual exploitation of children. In 2004, new
anti-trafficking studies were initiated in eleven areas of
the country in order to develop strategies for prevention and
set up local anti-trafficking programs where needed.

E. (SBU) Colombia is not a destination point for victims
trafficked internationally.

F. (SBU) Most traffickers in Colombia are linked to narcotics
trafficking or other criminal organizations. Most
trafficking organizations include both Colombians and
criminals from countries of destination. Colombia's
continuing economic difficulties, high unemployment, crime,
and terrorism contribute to the availability of victims.
Traffickers especially target females, between 14 and 30
years of age, with limited education and poor job prospects.
They also target young single mothers. They use a variety of
techniques to recruit women. According to the DAS, criminal
gangs frequently allow trafficking victims to return to
Colombia if they agree to recruit additional victims. These
organizations also place advertisements in major regional
newspapers offering jobs in Europe or Asia as nannies, maids,
waitresses, sales clerks, and models. They also advertise in
internet chat-rooms and marriage agencies. Once contact has
been established, criminal gangs move quickly to send victims
overseas before they have a chance to reconsider or contact
family. In addition, women are brought to the airport at the
last possible moment to minimize potential surveillance prior
to departure. The victims are also trained to memorize a
fictitious cover story to convince immigration authorities in
the destination country. According to the DAS, 90 percent of
victims leave Colombia legally. In cases where women have
left children behind, criminal gangs have threatened to harm
the children in order to keep the women working overseas.

G. (SBU) There is political will at the highest levels of the
GOC to combat trafficking in persons. The GOC has an
Inter-Agency Committee to Combat Trafficking in Women and
Children -- created by Decree 1974 of 1996 -- which includes
the Ministry of Justice and Interior, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, the office of the Presidential Advisor on Women's
Issues, DAS, Interpol, the National Police, the Institute for
Family Welfare (ICBF), Presidential Office for the Defense of
Human Rights, and the offices of the Prosecutor General
("Fiscalia"), Inspector General ("Procuraduria"), National
Human Rights Ombudsman ("Defensoria del Pueblo"), and
National Civil Registrar. The Committee meets every four
months and has prepared information campaigns, promoted
information exchange between government entities, created
trafficking hot lines for victims, and encouraged closer
cooperation between the Government and Interpol. Some of
their accomplishments during the past year included
strengthening cooperation between the various government
institutions involved in anti-trafficking measures,
suggesting activities to combat trafficking in persons, and
coordinating the design and implementation of an information
system and database to monitor the activities of criminal
gangs and potential victims.

H. (SBU) Colombian government officials do not facilitate nor
condone trafficking. Neither the DAS nor the Prosecutor
General's Office has received any information about the
involvement, or possible involvement, of government officials
in trafficking in persons.

I. (SBU) The effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts is
hampered by limited government resources to help victims.
The government therefore works closely with international
organizations, international donors, and NGOs on this issue.

J. (SBU) The Government frequently monitors its
anti-trafficking initiatives and makes available its
information on anti-trafficking efforts. All agencies of the
government working against trafficking -- as listed in
paragraph 3.G. -- work closely with the IOM and other NGOs.
The GOC also shares its information, best practices, and
lessons learned with other governments in the region. For
example, the GOC participated in two conferences sponsored by
IOM in July and October with representatives of the USG and
the Government of the Dominican Republic in attendance. At
the July conference, the Inspector Generals of Colombia and
the Dominican Republic signed a "Letter of Intention" to
strengthen their fight against trafficking in persons. At
the end of 2004, at the invitation of the OAS, an official of
the Office of the Inspector General of Colombia participated
in seminars in La Paz and Quito, sharing the Office's
experiences working to combat trafficking in persons.

K. (SBU) Prostitution by adults is not considered a crime in
Colombia, although the activities of pimps and other
enforcers are criminalized. The legal minimum age for
prostitution is 18 years. Prostitution is permitted in
so-called "tolerance zones" in various cities. In these
areas, the Institute of Urban Development monitors
establishments of prostitution.




4.A. (SBU) The GOC acknowledges that trafficking in persons
is a significant problem in Colombia.

B. (SBU) Agencies involved include the Ministry of Justice
and Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of
the Presidential Advisor on Women's Issues, DAS/Interpol, the
National Police, the Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF), the
Presidential Office for the Defense of Human Rights, and the
Offices of the Prosecutor General, Inspector General, Human
Rights Ombudsman, and National Civil Registrar.

C. (SBU) In March 2004 the Administrative Department of the
Presidency and the Office of the Presidential Advisor on
Women's Issues signed a cooperation agreement with the IOM to
strengthen TIP prevention efforts. During the year, the
Office of the Presidential Advisor was involved in prevention
activities, such as the distribution of material about
trafficking in persons and violence against women, in 1,098
municipalities and all of the country's 32 departments
(provinces). The Rebirth Foundation participated, along with
the Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF), the UN Office on
Children (UNICEF), the Bogota and Cartagena City Councils on
Sexual Exploitation, and the Children's Protection Network,
in a wide variety of local and regional projects for
improving knowledge and awareness and generating action
strategies on the prevention of sexual exploitation.
Additionally, the IOM continued its major anti-trafficking
national campaign, which included placing large posters in
airports, foreign consulates, and travel agencies, and
running professionally produced public service announcements
on television. The Hope Foundation, an NGO, also placed
posters, bookmarks, and anti-trafficking manuals in foreign
consulates and airports.

D. (SBU) Government programs designed to empower women may
have a positive long-term effect on Colombia's trafficking
problem. Such programs include a quota law that requires
departmental and municipal authorities to place women in 30
percent of all appointed positions. The Office of the
Presidential Advisor on Women's Issues also has numerous
programs. For example, the Office has pushed for the
inclusion of gender in analyses of national violence and has
trained public officials on the defense of women's and
children's human rights. They have worked to make sure the
issue of trafficking in persons is included on bilateral
agendas and have empowered women who are heads of families
through the development and strengthening of
micro-enterprises. Through December 2003, 4,588 individual
project proposals from 52 different cities were received by
the Office, 2,776 of which were considered viable and
benefited 4,889 women. The Office also sponsored the first
"National Fair of Businesswomen" in June 2004 in Bogota,
which enabled businesswomen to exhibit their products and
speak with each other. The Office also created a Gender
Issues Review (OAG) to investigate, document, sensitize, and
make visible gender equality issues, with the goal of
formulating recommendations to close the inequality gap.

E. (SBU) The GOC has a limited ability to financially support
prevention programs. Still, the Inspector General's Office
for the Defense of Minors and Family works to ensure that the
legal instruments ratified by Colombia are followed, and
implemented a monitoring system in 10 departments which
allows State entities to intervene in trafficking in persons
cases that come to the authorities' attention. These cities
are Armenia, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Buga, Cali,
Cartagena, Ibague, Medellin, Neiva, Pasto, and Pereira. The
Office has also addressed the topic of TIP with private
enterprises, such as the banking sector, promoted strategic
alliances with international organizations, and created an
observer's office on organized transnational crime that began
in 2004. The Inspector General's Office also participated in
the "Vitrina Turistica", an event held by the Association of
Travel Agencies and Tourism (ANATA), in which they shared
information about TIP.

F. (SBU) The GOC has good relations with NGOs, other relevant
organizations, and other elements of civil society interested
in trafficking in persons issues. In February 2005, with the
support of the Ministry of Labor, the Hope Foundation
published "Metamorphosis of Slavery: Legal Manual in
Trafficking in Persons." The presentation of the manual was
attended by the Minister of Interior and Justice and
representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office, the DAS,
the National Police, and the Human Rights Ombudsman. The
manual will be used by government officials and others as a
legal tool on trafficking in persons.

G. (SBU) Colombia has good control over its international
airports, with a sophisticated system for tracking passenger
arrivals and departures. However, its maritime and land
borders are porous and vulnerable to exploitation, including
by criminals who traffic in persons. Nevertheless, the vast
majority of trafficking victims leave the country legally.
The DAS works closely with migration authorities in the
international airport in Bogota and has had success in
detecting potential trafficking victims. The DAS speaks with
potential victims to inform them the job they were offered
might not be a reality and to try to persuade them to change
their decision and cooperate with the authorities. One NGO,
with the cooperation of the DAS, sends representatives to
Bogota's international airport to watch for potential
trafficking victims. Additionally, in February 2004, the
Hope Foundation, with the support of the IOM, launched an
information campaign to assist travelers in Bogota's
international airport. Travelers will be able to register
with the Foundation, view information on trafficking, and
have access to the addresses and phone numbers of the
Colombian consulates throughout the world through a kiosk in
the international terminal. This information is also
available on a new internet site.

H. (SBU) As noted previously, the government has an
inter-agency committee to combat trafficking in persons.
Additionally, in December 2004, the Prosecutor General's
Office signed an agreement with the IOM to create a Unit
within the Prosecutor General's Office dedicated entirely to
the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to
trafficking in persons. This unit, which has just begun
operations, includes 5 officials of the Prosecutor General's
Office and 15 officials of the National Police, DAS/Interpol,
and the Prosecutor General's Corps of Technical Investigators

I. (SBU) In July 2003, the IOM implemented a major
anti-trafficking public relations campaign to raise awareness
in Colombia. This campaign continued through February 2005
and included placing large posters in airports, foreign
consulates, and travel agencies and running professionally
produced public service announcements on radio and
television, with the cooperation of the GOC. In 2004, the
Call Center, which was put into effect by the IOM in 2003 and
allows callers to phone in anonymously to ask about the
legality of job offers and provide information on potential
trafficking cases, received 4,897 calls. In addition to the
agreements signed with the Office of the Presidential Advisor
on Women's Issues and the Prosecutor General's Office, the
IOM signed an agreement with the Inspector General's Office
to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against
trafficking. IOM also set up roundtable discussions between
Colombian government officials and various local embassies to
discuss anti-trafficking laws, visa laws, and victims
assistance in their home countries. The U.S. Embassy was
scheduled to participate in this exchange in March 2005.

J. (SBU) There is no single GOC entity responsible for
anti-trafficking efforts, nor is there an approved national
plan. However, the Office of the Presidential Advisor on
Women's Issues and the Ministry of Interior and Justice, in
coordination with the United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime, were working on the development and implementation of
a comprehensive national strategy to combat trafficking in
persons and support the justice system in preventing,
investigating, and sanctioning trafficking crimes. The first
phase, which included the development of the strategy, the
design of international cooperation agreements, and the
preparation of a study about trafficking, was nearing

K. (SBU) The agencies involved in the Inter-Agency Committee
to Combat Trafficking in Persons all participate in
anti-trafficking programs with the government.


Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers


5.A. (SBU) Law 599 of 2000 made penalties for trafficking for
purposes of prostitution equivalent to those for rape and
sexual assault, carrying penalties of 6 to 8 years in prison
and fines of up to 100 times the monthly minimum wage. Law
747 of July 2002 broadened the definition of trafficking in
persons and provided for prison sentences between 10 and 15
years and fines up to 1,000 times the monthly minimum wage.
Law 890 of 2004, which entered into force on January 1, 2005,
further increased these penalties to 13 to 23 years in prison
and fines of up to 1,500 times the monthly minimum wage.
These penalties can be increased by up to one-third if there
are aggravating circumstances, such as if the crime is
committed against a minor (less than 18 years of age), the
victim is mentally challenged, or the trafficker is a family
member or public servant. If the victim is under 12 years of
age, the penalty is increased by half. Additional charges of
illegal detention, violation of the right to work in
dignified conditions, and violation of personal freedom also
may be brought against traffickers. According to Law 747 of
2002, forcing someone into prostitution is punishable by 5 to
9 years in prison and a fine of up to 500 times the monthly
minimum wage. These penalties can be increased up to
one-half if the victim is under 14 years of age, if the
criminal plans to take the victim out of the country, or if
the criminal is a family member. Penalties are also
increased if the victim is under 18 years of age. Child
pornography in any form is also criminalized with punishments
of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1,000 times
the monthly minimum salary. These penalties are increased by
half if the minor is 12 years or younger.

B. (SBU) Penalties for traffickers are described above.

C. (SBU) Law 599 of 2000 criminalized rape (Article 205) and
forcible sexual assault (Article 206). Law 890 of 2004
increased the penalties for rape and sexual assault. For
rape the minimum sentence rose from 8 years to 10 years and
the maximum from 15 to 22 years. For sexual assault the
minimum rose from 3 to 4 years and the maximum from 6 to 9

D. (SBU) In accordance with Law 360 of 1997, the Prosecutor
General's Office created a unit to investigate and prosecute
sexual abuse crimes, including trafficking in persons. In
2004, the Prosecutor General's Office had 20 new cases
related to trafficking in persons that involved 19 adult
women and one child. By the end of the year, no sentences
had been handed down in these cases. They also had over 300
cases in their offices in various stages of the judicial
process and investigation. In January 2005, a new
anti-trafficking in persons unit was created in the
Prosecutor General's Office. The unit has just started its
functions in a building provided by the Prosecutor General's
Office at Calle 35 No. 4-31 in Bogota. On January 1, 2005,
Colombia also began its adoption of an accusatory judicial
system. This change should allow for quicker, more
transparent resolutions to cases.

E. (SBU) According to the police and DAS, most traffickers
are linked to narcotics or other criminal organizations. In
some cases, Colombian traffickers sell victims to foreign
crime organizations; this is especially the case with
Japanese crime syndicates. Government officials are not
involved in trafficking.

F. (SBU) The government actively investigates trafficking
cases. When information is passed regarding a possible case
of trafficking in persons, it is analyzed according to
protocols of investigation under the direction and
coordination of the Prosecutor General's Office. The
National Police and DAS/Interpol, which has an eight-person
unit dedicated to investigating trafficking in persons
crimes, take the lead in such investigations.

G. (SBU) The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
has provided training for government officials on how to
recognize, investigate, and prosecute cases of trafficking in
persons. In particular, it has been working with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs to train its career diplomats on
how to spot and deal with trafficking victims. In 2004, the
IOM trained 2,982 public officials from various government
agencies in 38 different regional training sessions on the
applicable regulations for this crime, including members of
the National Police, DAS/Interpol and the Prosecutor
General's Office. The Hope Foundation, through the
publication of its legal manual on trafficking in persons, is
also assisting in the training of government officials.

H. (SBU) The GOC cooperates with other governments in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons.
This past year, DAS/Interpol worked with the governments of
Panama, Spain, Japan, and Jamaica in cases involving
trafficking in persons. DAS/Interpol notes they receive
their best coordination from the Government of Spain. For
example, a Spanish citizen was working in the coffee region
of Colombia trying to recruit victims to send to Spain for
sexual exploitation. This individual had developed a network
to find victims and then had a network in place to receive,
transport, and exploit the victims in Spain. Interpol
Colombia, working with its Spanish counterpart, was able to
arrest this individual, after which he was deported to Spain
and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

I. (SBU) The GOC can extradite persons charged with
trafficking in other countries. The GOC can extradite its
own nationals. However, there were no such extraditions for
persons charged with trafficking in the period March
2004-February 2005, and no requests for such extraditions,
according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

J. (SBU) There is no evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking.

K. (SBU) No government officials have been implicated in
trafficking in persons crimes.

L. (SBU) Colombia has stringent laws in place to protect
children who are forced into prostitution.

M. (SBU) ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
was ratified on January 15, 2005. In November 2003, Colombia
ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution, and Child Pornography, which entered into force
in December 2003. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,
supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime, was ratified in August 2004. Colombia
ratified ILO Convention 29 in 1969 and ILO Convention 105 in



Protection and Assistance to Victims


6.A. (SBU) Colombian consulates worldwide are supposed to
provide legal and social assistance to Colombian citizens in
need, including victims of trafficking. The GOC has
contracted legal advisors and social workers to help support
Colombians abroad. However, this type of assistance can only
be provided in consular districts with at least 10,000
resident Colombians. The Colombian Embassy in Japan, under

Ambassador Francisco Sierra, has taken a number of measures
to assist trafficking victims. The Embassy has engaged local
police authorities and the Japanese government on this issue.
It has helped Colombian victims and assisted in the process
of repatriation. The assistance of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and/or the Embassy begins the moment information is
provided by a family member or friend in Colombia or the
victim gets in touch with the Embassy, which then coordinates
with local authorities to provide immediate protection. The
GOC has no specific program for assisting trafficking victims
once they return to Colombia, but trafficked minors can
receive some assistance. For example, of the 25,000 children
sexually exploited in Colombia, the Family Welfare Institute
(ICBF) provided assistance, both directly and through other
specialized agencies, to over 14,400 in 2003.

B. (SBU) The IOM and the Hope Foundation have provided
short-term assistance to trafficking victims, including
educational information, social support, and counseling. The
IOM provided victims with job training and employment
opportunities through programs in 13 regional departments.
These projects have had over 900 direct beneficiaries. For
example, the IOM has assisted victims in Bogota, Medellin,
Cartagena and the coffee region. IOM also helped victims
obtain necessary medical and psychological care. The Rebirth
Foundation continues its work to contribute to the
eradication of the sexual exploitation of children and
adolescents. Its current activities include outreach work
through the targeting of areas where children in prostitution
are known to be found, funding a day center which offers
education, health care and activity-based workshops in a
variety of areas, and a long-stay home which helps adapt
children from street life to the routines of living in a
house with others and encourages social integration and
friendship. Vocational skills, educational training, and
therapy are also provided.

C. (SBU) The GOC provides information to international
organizations and NGOs on cases related to victims or
potential victims of trafficking in persons. For example, in
2004, Colombian missions abroad referred nine cases of
trafficking in persons involving Colombian victims to IOM

D. (SBU) The rights of trafficking victims are respected and
the government encourages victims to assist in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking. However, the
frequent intimidation of witnesses and the GOC's limited
witness protection program deters many victims from coming
forward to assist in possible trafficking crimes. The new
Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Prosecutor General's Office,
however, created a victim-friendly environment for interviews
to help increase the number of trafficking crimes reported to
state authorities.

E. (SBU) The government encourages victims to assist in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking. The rights of
victims to seek legal redress are not impeded. However, many
victims, fearing for their own safety or that of their
families, are often reluctant to come forward.

F. (SBU) The Rebirth Foundation provides day and long-term
shelter to children and adolescents who have been victims of
sexual exploitation. The day center offers education and
activity-based workshops in a variety of areas, as well as
free health care, meals, therapy, and referrals to a
residential home, drug detoxification clinic, or home for
pregnant teens. The long-stay home helps adapt children from
street life to the routines of living in a house with others
and encourages social integration and friendship.

G. (SBU) With the strong support and cooperation of the GOC,
the IOM has provided specialized training to consular
officials, as well as officials from DAS/Interpol, the
Prosecutor General's Office, the National Police, and the
Inspector General's Office, on the problem and prevention of
trafficking in persons, as well as on protection of victims.
Colombian embassies, most notably its Embassy in Japan, have
developed good relationships with NGOs and international
organizations and report suspected cases of TIP to them. The
IOM organized two conferences in 2004 between the Governments
of Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and the United States to
share experiences and best practices in combating TIP.

H. (SBU) IOM and other NGOs, with the assistance of the GOC,
provide assistance to repatriated victims, such as
counseling, job training, and health care. The Ministry of
Foreign Affairs assists Colombian victims abroad and refers
such cases to relevant organizations in Colombia.

I. (SBU) The IOM and the Hope Foundation are the two main
groups working with and for trafficking victims. They
receive excellent cooperation from local and national
authorities. The Rebirth Foundation works with children and
adolescents who are victims of sexual exploitation. The
Foundation Against Trafficking in Persons put its projects on
hold in 2004 due to lack of funding.