Cablegate: Submission for 2005 Tip Report

Published: Wed 2 Mar 2005 12:15 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary: Ecuador continues to take steps to combat
trafficking in persons (TIP). Since issuing a presidential
decree in August 2004, the government has drafted a national
plan, increased public awareness of the problem, and reached
out to source and destination countries. The GOE has
cooperated with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to
establish a center for TIP victims in Machala, and trained
police and other employees about TIP. Congress debated the
first draft of an anti-trafficking bill, and in the meantime
authorities have prosecuted and sentenced child pornographers
under existing laws. The police have stepped up raids on
nightclubs and bars where minors work as prostitutes,
returning numerous TIP victims to their families. The
inter-institutional committee meets regularly to coordinate
the GoE's plan and actions against TIP. Despite these steps,
key challenges remain: passing pending legislation in a
distracted Congress, using the new law to investigate and
prosecute traffickers, finalizing the national plan, and
providing victims services. Responses below are keyed to
questions in RefTel. End Summary.
Overview of Activities to Eliminate TIP
2. A-B: Is the country a country of origin, transit or
destination for international trafficked men, women, or
children? There is a lack of reliable or detailed
information available on trafficking in
persons*-domestically and especially internationally.
Ecuador is a country of origin and destination, and possibly
of transit, for victims of trafficking. Last year's report
indicated victims may be trafficked to Spain, but we have no
new information to substantiate this. Despite the high
numbers of Ecuadorians living in the U.S. illegally (1.6
million), U.S. authorities have not brought to the Embassy's
attention any trafficking cases involving Ecuadorian culprits
or victims in the U.S.
3. A-B: The ABA collected anecdotal evidence on trafficking
patterns. There was no estimate of the number of victims.
The report indicated that some women were trafficked as
prostitutes from Colombia to Ecuador and that some boys were
victims of sexual exploitation of minors, especially at
hotels. Banana plantations, mines, and the shrimp industry
are believed to exploit people for forced labor by the ABA,
but due to a shortage of labor inspectors, we have very
little information.
4. A-B: Until credible new evidence shows otherwise,
current information indicates the highest incidence of
trafficking occurs domestically via prostitution of minors
between 14-18 years of age. Once the law is passed changing
the legal age of consent for prostitution to 18, the GOE will
have a legal basis to combat this aspect of the problem.
5. C: Have there been any changes in the direction or
extent of trafficking? We have no information indicating
trafficking patterns have changed.
6. D: Are any efforts or surveys planned or underway to
document the extent and nature of trafficking in the country?
The only new information available is the ABA report. (See
paragraph 3.) No additional surveys are planned.
7. E: If the country is a destination point for trafficked
victims, what kind of conditions are the victims trafficked
into? Victims are believed to be trafficked into
prostitution. No additional information is available.
8. F: If the country is a country of origin, which
populations are targeted by the traffickers? Some victims
may choose to immigrate illegally and then become victims of
trafficking along the way. Families or friends often
encourage girls to participate in prostitution due to dire
economic circumstances. False documents are common and
easily obtained.
9. G: Is there political will at the highest levels of
government to combat trafficking in persons? Yes, political
will exists at the highest levels of government to combat
TIP. The GOE has increased its focus on combating TIP, but
is also facing other pressing problems, including political
instability, and poverty. President Gutierrez issued a
decree in August 2004, denouncing TIP and related crimes and
forming an inter-institutional committee to combat it. The
president and Minister of Government have repeatedly
expressed the GoE's commitment to combat TIP. Minister of
Foreign Affairs Patricio Zuquilanda on February 14, 2005,
wrote the Ambassador a letter highlighting the GoE's efforts
to combat trafficking and its ongoing commitment to end this
atrocity. The inter-institutional committee to combat
trafficking has met regularly since January and written a
draft national action plan. The municipal government of
Machala has cooperated with the ILO to provide new victim's
services. A government-private roundtable on sexual
exploitation continues to meet and work to change relevant
laws. However, political instability and other problems make
it difficult for the government to focus on trafficking.
10. H: Do governmental authorities or individual members of
government forces facilitate or condone trafficking? The USG
has no information on GOE officials facilitating or condoning
trafficking. However, GOE officials have been accused of
facilitating alien smuggling. Although Police General Jorge
Poveda was publicly accused of alien smuggling, no charges
were ever filed against him.
11. I: What are the limitations on the government's ability
to address this problem in practice? The government faces
many limitations to its ability to address TIP fully in
practice. Due to Ecuador's widespread poverty and the
government's difficult fiscal situation, the GOE does not
have the resources to adequately address the country's many
social and criminal problems. The police and other justice
system institutions do not have the resources necessary to
combat the level of crime they face. In addition to
government resource constraints, corruption is widespread and
pervasive. The GOE has begun to implement justice system and
anti-corruption reforms. However, these reforms have not yet
resulted in a significant decrease in corruption.
12. J: To what extent does the government systematically
monitor its anti-trafficking efforts (on all fronts --
prosecution, prevention and victim protection) and
periodically make available, publicly or privately and
directly or through regional/international organizations, its
assessments of these anti-trafficking efforts? CONAMU (the
National Commission on Women) provided a written report of
its activities to the inter-institutional committee against
trafficking in January. Through the same commission, the
government has begun to assess its efforts to combat TIP.
The committee issued a report internally and to the Embassy
documenting its efforts. DINAPEN reports on its efforts to
rescue minors from prostitution bi-weekly.
13. K: Is prostitution legalized or decriminalized?
Regulated prostitution is legal in Ecuador, and the age of
consent is 14. If a person facilitates the prostitution of
another person, without following the government regulations,
the sanction is one to three years of imprisonment; this
provision could be used to prosecute traffickers. If a
person facilitates the prostitution of a minor under the age
of 14, or uses violence or coercion to force someone to
engage in prostitution, the penalty is six to nine years
imprisonment. The Code of Children and Adolescents, that
went into effect in July 2003, explicitly defines commercial
sexual exploitation of minors as applying to anyone under the
age of 18; however, the penal code has not yet been reformed
to match. The GOE is working on reforms to the penal code
with USG, ABA, and UNICEF,s assistance.
14. A: Does the government acknowledge that trafficking is
a problem in that country? Government officials at all
levels and across all ministries acknowledge the TIP problem.
They are particularly concerned about internal child
prostitution and acknowledge the potential for international
trafficking to be a problem, given the high levels of
emigration from Ecuador.
15. B: Which government agencies are involved in
anti-trafficking efforts? The GOE agencies involved include:
1) The Ministry of Government, which chairs the
inter-institutional committee; 2) the National Commission on
Women; 3) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 4) Attorney
General's Office; 5) the Presidency; 6) the Ministry of
Education; 7) the Ministry of Social Welfare; 8) the Ministry
of Labor; 9) the Ministry of Public Health; 10) the Ministry
of Social Welfare; 11) The National Institute for Children
and the Family (INNFA); and 12) the police dedicated to
protecting children (DINAPEN).
16. C: Are there or have there been government-run
anti-trafficking public information or public education
campaigns? The media has published numerous articles about
trafficking, child prostitution, and pornography. Former
minister of government Raul Baca publicly described pending
legal reforms and the GoE's commitment to combat TIP in an
interview by a national newspaper in August 2004. Other
articles highlighted the contents of the presidential decree
to against TIP.
17. D-E: Does the government support other programs to
prevent trafficking? (e.g., to promote women's participation
in economic decision-making or efforts to keep children in
school.) CONAMU and DINAPEN created a paper system to track
victims of commercial sexual exploitation of minors. The GOE
also has programs aimed at preventing problems related to
trafficking, and they may provide alternatives to those at
risk of becoming trafficking victims. There are programs to
keep children in school and aid those at risk of child labor,
as well as limited programs to improve the economic situation
of women. The Ministry of Public Health has a program to
prevent, detect, and aid victims of child abuse. The police
say they have increased control of false documents in places
where prostitution is legal, but we are not aware this has
actually happened. Banana and flower social forums bring
government, NGO, IO, union and business leaders together to
discuss child labor. Ecuador's economic situation limits the
GoE's ability to support social programs in general,
including programs that may help prevent trafficking.
18. F: What is the relationship between government
officials, NGOs, other relevant organizations and other
elements of civil society on the trafficking issue? The
roundtable on sexual exploitation includes members of civil
society. The committee on trafficking has invited members of
civil society, such as the ABA and the ILO, to speak at its
meetings. As the work on the issue continues to evolve,
increased cooperation is expected to occur.
19. G: Does the government adequately monitor its borders?
Does it monitor immigration and emigration patterns for
evidence of trafficking? The GOE cannot adequately monitor
its porous borders. Ecuador has a relatively long coastline,
and much of its borders with Colombia and Peru are in remote
areas and difficult to monitor. The GOE increased the police
presence on the northern border, but is still unable to
effectively monitor the entire border. Given the limited
information on international TIP, the GOE has not
specifically monitored migration patterns to determine if
there is evidence of TIP.
20. H: Is there a mechanism for coordination and
communication between various agencies, such as a
multi-agency working group or a task force? The
anti-trafficking international committee to combat TIP has
members from 10 government agencies as mentioned above. The
members are committed to combating the problem and have been
meeting frequently since January.
21. H: The GoE's primary anti-corruption body has been the
Commission for the Civic Control of Corruption (CCCC), which
investigates corruption but does not have the authority to
issue sanctions. In 2003 President Gutierrez formed the
Anti-Corruption System (SAE). This inter-agency task force
includes the GoE's Controller, Attorney General, Chief
Prosecutor, Human Rights Ombudsman, Banking,
Telecommunications and Companies Superintendencies, and
members of Congress. The SAE is charged with coordinating
policies, plans and programs to eradicate corruption.
Neither organization was very active in 2004.
22. I: Does the government coordinate with or participate
in multinational or international working groups or efforts
to prevent, monitor, or control trafficking? The MFA
organized seminars in Quito with the UN-ODCP in October 2004
and with the French Embassy in November 2004. Ecuadorian
embassies and consulates, especially those in Spain, Austria,
the U.S., and several Latin American countries, work with
their host governments and the United Nations to combat
23. J. Does the government have a national plan of action
to address trafficking in persons? The GOE drafted a TIP
plan and expected to approve it in early March. All members
of the inter-institutional committee on trafficking gave
input for the plan. However, the February 22, 2005 change of
Minister of Government (as head of the committee) will delay
its approval.
24. K: Is there some entity or person responsible for
developing anti-trafficking programs within the government?
The presidential decree to combat trafficking charges the
Minister of Government with coordinating GOE efforts to
combat trafficking; the Presidential Legal Advisor serves as
secretary to the inter-institutional committee. Ministry
staff have worked diligently to draft the national action
plan and to support the committee's work.
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers
25. A-B: Does the country have a law specifically
prohibiting trafficking in persons--both trafficking for
sexual exploitation and trafficking for non-sexual purposes
(e.g. forced labor)? Ecuador's laws on TIP remain unchanged
from last year. However, Congress is reviewing a proposal to
reform the criminal code to penalize traffickers and raise
the age of consent for prostitution to 18. Article 23 of the
constitution explicitly prohibits slavery and trafficking in
persons in all forms. The Code of Children and Adolescents,
prohibits trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors
under the age of 18; however, Congress has not yet passed
penal code reforms to match. There are effectively no
alternative laws strong enough to provide penalties for TIP.
26. C: What are the penalties for rape or forcible sexual
assault? Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault range
from one to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the
circumstances. Sentences are higher when the victim is under
the age of 14.
27. D: Has the Government prosecuted any cases against
traffickers? If so, provide numbers of investigations,
prosecutions, convictions, and sentences, including details
on plea bargains and fines, if relevant and available. In a
key TIP-related case, the perpetrators in the Burdet-Cedeno
child pornography ring were convicted on October 19, 2004, on
four charges of raping minors with sentences of 12 to 25
years. On September 24, 2004, Ecuadorian citizen and U.S.
legal permanent resident Angel Mariscal was also sentenced to
100 years on 7 charges of child pornography.
28. E: Is there any information or reports of who is behind
the trafficking? For example, are the traffickers freelance
operators, small crime groups, and/or large international
organized crime syndicates? Many domestic victims of
trafficking are child prostitutes, most of whom work legally
and with their parents, knowledge and consent. An ILO
report on commercial sexual exploitation of minors indicates
that many began to work in the commercial sex industry
through contacts with relatives or friends. Due to the lack
of information on international TIP in general, there is no
specific information on who might be behind it.
29. E: There is little information about TIP networks, but
DHS reports that there are criminal networks that smuggle
Ecuadorians and third country nationals to the U.S. and
Western Europe. These networks have international contacts
in Central America, Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. The
networks sometimes operate through travel agencies.
30. F: Does the government actively investigate cases of
trafficking? The GOE sends us weekly reports of raids
DINAPEN conducts throughout the country looking for TIP
victims. However, due to the lack of legislation
criminalizing TIP and the police's lack of resources and
knowledge of investigative techniques, police typically are
unable to collect evidence to prosecute traffickers, and
existing legislation is inadequate to prosecute. DINAPEN is
committed to fighting TIP and has requested additional
training from the Embassy. They have already received
training on internet child pornography investigation
techniques and commercial sexual exploitation of minors. We
continue to look for further opportunities for collaboration
and training with the American Bar Association is planned for
the near future.
31. G: Does the government provide any specialized training
for government officials in how to recognize, investigate,
and prosecute instances of trafficking? The ILO and Ministry
of Government jointly funded training for DINAPEN on the
commercial sexual exploitation of minors. DINAPEN's regional
director in Quito continues to lobby for additional training
for her employees on trafficking and how to recognize and
work with victims they may find. DHS has provided DINAPEN
with training on investigating child pornography. (See
preceding paragraph.) At the TIP inter-institutional
committee's request, the ABA recently gave the group a
training session on the differences between trafficking and
alien smuggling and facilitated a workshop on developing a
national plan.
32. H: Does the government cooperate with other governments
in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases?
GOE officials have expressed willingness to cooperate with
other governments in the investigation and prosecution of
trafficking cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with
officials from the embassies of Peru and Colombia in December
2003 to discuss cooperation and has promised to schedule
another meeting in early March with representatives from the
countries and Spain. Ecuadorian embassies and consulates
have met with host government counterparts in Spain, Peru,
Colombia, and other Latin American countries to discuss the
problem and copies of their national plans.
33. I: Does the government extradite persons who are
charged with trafficking in other countries? Ecuador's
constitution prohibits Ecuadorian citizens from being
extradited to other countries. Citizens of other countries
could be extradited. Unfortunately the GOE has not complied
with USG requests to deport accused child pornographer Joseph
34. J: Is there evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking, on a local or institutional level?
There is no evidence of GOE involvement in or tolerance of
TIP, on a local or institutional level. Allegations of
police tolerance of alien smuggling are under investigation.
35. K: If government officials are involved in trafficking,
what steps has the government taken to end such
participation? We are unaware of any trafficking cases
involving public officials.
36. L: If the country has an identified child sex tourism
problem (as source or destination), how many foreign
pedophiles has the government prosecuted or
deported/extradited to their country of origin? Some child
sex tourism may occur in Ecuador in coastal areas, but no
strong evidence exists.
37. M: Has the government signed, ratified, and/or taken
steps to implement the following international instruments?
--ILO Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate
action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
Signed June 17, 1999 and ratified July 1, 2000.
--ILO Convention 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor.
ILO Convention 29 was ratified June 7, 1954. ILO Convention
105 was ratified May 2, 1962.
--The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution,
and child pornography. Signed September 6, 2000, and
ratified January 30, 2004.
--The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Signed
December 13, 2000 and ratified September 17, 2002.
Protection and Assistance to Victims
38. A: Does the government assist victims, for example, by
providing temporary to permanent residency status, relief
from deportation, shelter and access to legal, medical and
psychological services? The proposed legal code reform
prevents TIP victims from being deported for migration
violations. Pregnant women and children under five years of
age receive free medical care, so some TIP victims would be
covered in this program.
39. B: Does the government provide funding or other forms
of support to foreign or domestic NGOs for services to
victims? The government has very little funding for social
programs in general and does not yet fund programs in this
40. C: Is there a screening and referral process in place,
when appropriate, to transfer victims detained, arrested or
placed in protective custody by law enforcement authorities
to NGO's that provide short- or long-term care? Ecuador is
still beginning its work on victims, services and once the
law is passed will likely begin coordination between the
police and victims, services, providers.
41. D: Are the rights of victims respected, or are victims
also treated as criminals? Victims of commercial sexual
exploitation of minors are not detained or treated as
criminals, as prostitution is legal in Ecuador. In cases
where they have false documents (often proof of age), they
are fined for falsification of documents. Victims of
commercial sexual exploitation of minors are typically
returned to their families. We are not aware of any cases
where international trafficking victims were jailed or
deported by the GoE.
42. E: Does the government encourage victims to assist in
the investigation and prosecution of trafficking? Victims of
trafficking can file civil suits against traffickers without
legal impediment. However, the inefficient and corrupt
judicial system might discourage victims from filing suits.
There is no victim restitution program.
43. F: What kind of protection is the government able to
provide for victims and witnesses? The government does not
have any shelters but has cooperated with the ILO to begin a
victims center in Machala. The attorney general's office has
said it plans to provide to protection to victims who
testify. To date, the government affords little protection
to witnesses of any crimes, due to its resource constraints.
44. G: Does the government provide any specialized training
for government officials in recognizing trafficking and in
the provision of assistance to trafficked victims, including
the special needs of trafficked children? The MFA provides
basic information on trafficking as part of its general
training on international affairs. All embassies and
consulates were made aware of the ratification of the Palermo
Convention,s protocols. Ecuador,s embassy in Spain has
worked with a Spanish NGO to try to develop projects related
to child prostitution.
45. H: Does the government provide assistance, such as
medical aid, shelter, or financial help, to its repatriated
nationals who are victims of trafficking? The GOE does not
provide assistance to repatriated nationals who are victims
of trafficking.
46. I: Which internationals organizations or NGOs, if any,
work with trafficking victims? The ILO has begun setting up
a daytime center for TIP victims in Machala and has begun
planning centers in Quito and Guayaquil. Former Minister of
Government Baca's office worked closely with the ILO in this
undertaking. The municipal government of Machala also
cooperates with the ILO. Defensa de los Ninos Internacional
has begun work with trafficking victims in Santo Domingo de
los Colorados. NGO "Geneva Global" awarded grants to five
NGOs in Ecuador in December 2004 to provide services to
47. Embassy point of contact for TIP issues is
Mary-Elizabeth Knapp, (593)(2)256-2890 ext. 4424 or post IVG
number is 644, Fax (593)(2)254-0712, e-mail:
48. Hours spent in preparation of this report: Political
Section Chief (FS 2): 4 hours; Political officer (FS 5): 30
hours; Political FSN (FSN 9): 10 hours. (Note: Other post
members, from the Ambassador and DCM on down, worked on TIP
issues during the year; the hours listed above are solely for
the preparation of this report.)
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