Trafficking in Persons Report
US. Department of StateReleased by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in PersonsJune 12, 2007VENEZUELAVenezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and People's Republic of China are trafficked to and through Venezuela and subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Venezuelans are trafficked internally and to Western Europe, particularly Spain and the Netherlands, and to countries in the region such as Mexico, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic, for commercial sexual exploitation. Venezuela is a transit country for undocumented migrants from other countries in the region, particularly Peru and Colombia, and for Asian nationals; some may be trafficking victims.The Government of Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Nonetheless, the government made efforts to train public officials and undertake initiatives to raise public awareness during the reporting period. The government should amend its laws to prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, consistent with international standards, and show a credible effort to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and to convict and sentence trafficking offenders.ProsecutionThe Government of Venezuela made no discernable anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Venezuela does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though various provisions of its legal code criminalize some forms of sex and labor trafficking. Article 16 of the Organic Law Against Organized Crime, passed in 2005, prohibits human trafficking across international borders and prescribes penalties ranging from 10 to 18 years' imprisonment. Provisions of Venezuela's 2004 Naturalization and Immigration Law criminalize transnational trafficking for labor exploitation, for which prescribed punishment is 4 to 10 years' imprisonment. However, these laws do not address trafficking of adults within the country. The Child Protection Act and various articles of the penal code can be used to prosecute internal trafficking of minors, but many of these statutes carry low penalties. Despite existing prosecutorial tools for punishing many forms of trafficking, the Venezuelan government has not reported any trafficking prosecutions or convictions during the reporting period. The government operates a national hotline through which it receives trafficking complaints, though it is not known how many were received during the last year. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to public officials. There were no confirmed reports of government complicity with human trafficking in 2006.ProtectionThe Venezuelan government's efforts to assist trafficking victims remained inadequate during the reporting period. The government does not operate shelters dedicated specifically for trafficking victims, and there are no witness protection or restitution programs. Moreover, the government showed no evidence of implementing procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as persons detained for prostitution or immigration violations. The lack of witness protection provisions in Venezuelan law discourages victims from filing charges or assisting in the investigation of their traffickers. The government provides some legal protection from foreign victims' removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. In cases where safe repatriation is not possible, the government refers victims to the UNHCR or the Red Cross for third country placement.PreventionThe government sustained efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking. In August 2006, the government launched a community-awareness campaign to encourage trafficking victims to press charges against traffickers, and to utilize victim services provided by the government. The government also provided modest support to anti-trafficking activities by NGOs and created an ad-hoc working group to draft a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons.