Crime & Justice

Human trafficking on the rise in Venezuela

By Hector Pereira

Caracas, Jul 29 (EFE).- The growth of human trafficking in Venezuela is a matter of concern for the government, the United Nations, and NGOs that have joined forces to protect vulnerable people in border regions.

While the government created a presidential commission to address the problem in July 2021, the UN office in Caracas has been critical of repeated delays in the publication of a national plan to battle the illicit trade.

On the eve of the World Day Against Human Trafficking, July 30, Venezuela remains without official figures regarding the scope of the activity or the number of victims.

Recently, an alliance of Venezuelan and foreign-based NGOs came together with two UN agencies to create a strategy against human trafficking.

People involved in the effort told EFE they have learned of cases involving Venezuelan women lured to nearby Trinidad and Tobago and the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao – with promises of employment only to be forced into prostitution.

An official with the Catholic charity Caritas said that the group often assists Venezuelans deported from Trinidad and Tobago.

Many of the women, the official said, return to Venezuelan pregnant or psychologically scarred after enduring months of sexual exploitation.

The Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVV) has pointed to the increasing incidence of sex trafficking in areas of southern Venezuelan where illegal mining is rampant and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has called on the government to act.

Two Venezuelan congressional committees are at work on legislation to deal with human trafficking, seen here as a problem closely related to the phenomenon of migrations.

Regional governments and humanitarian organizations estimate that some 7 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015, transforming border regions into hunting grounds for traffickers who ensnare desperate migrants.

Aided by a modest economic recovery, President Nicolas Maduro’s administration is trying to reduce emigration, while government agencies have worked the UN to alert migrants to the danger of trafficking and equip them with knowledge to protect themselves.

The Attorney General’s Office has dismantled several trafficking rings, but with just nine arrests in the last two months, the response seems inadequate in light of UN figures documented thousands of trafficking victims in 2022. EFE hp/dr

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