The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has documented a troubling pattern: child trafficking rates in the Latin American and Caribbean regions are among the highest in the world.
Lissette Reyes, a Track4Tip officer, discussed this issue and more during the launch of the Standard Operating Procedures on Counter Trafficking (SOP) in Trinidad on Friday.
Reyes noted that women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, and that our region of Central America and the Caribbean has one of the highest rates of trafficking victims being little girls, accounting for 50% of all recorded cases.
Another 25% of the victims in the region are women, which poses a significant risk to our communities and neighborhoods.
Reyes also stated that 71% of trafficking cases in the Caribbean and Latin America are for sexual exploitation.
She mentioned a 3% increase in male trafficking victims, including boys, compared to 2019. She added that the number of trafficking victims for forced labor is almost on par with those for sexual exploitation.
The Counter Trafficking Unit has been working with Track4Tip since 2020 to develop a national report to understand how migration trends have affected trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Reyes emphasized that trafficking has become more difficult to identify and combat due to social media, which allows traffickers to evade the authorities.
Furthermore, Reyes noted that there has been a 54% reduction in convictions in the Caribbean and Central America compared to 2019, one of the highest reductions globally.
However, this does not mean that the work is not being done, but rather that it has become more challenging due to difficulties in obtaining statements and testimony from victims.
Track4Tip is a three-year initiative (2019-2022) implemented by the UNODC and supported by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (JTIP) at the United States Department of State.
The project aims to enhance the regional criminal justice response to human trafficking among migration flows within eight beneficiary countries, including Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao, and Aruba.
The SOP aims to standardize the identification and case response procedures with regards to trafficking in persons.
The objective is to establish case tracking and management to better monitor cases and prevent re-victimization. The overall goal is to strengthen the criminal justice response towards cases of trafficking in persons involving Venezuelans migrating in the region.