27 September 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
Bolivia faces the problem of human trafficking within the framework of the strategy to combat drug trafficking and related crimes supported by the project managed by the FIIAPP
30 July is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. As a firm step in the fight against this crime by the political authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, 23 September has been established as the National Day against human trafficking in the country.
Aligning itself with this public commitment, the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), in coordination with the Coordination Secretariat of the National Council to fight against illicit drug trafficking (SC-CONALTID), are carrying out the support project for the strategy to combat drug trafficking and related crimes in Bolivia, financed by the European Union and co-financed by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID).
In order to correctly understand the enormous problem posed by trafficking in human beings, we must first know what it is. The definition of trafficking is included in the Palermo Protocol as follows: “…the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
This trade in human beings has become the new form of slavery in the 21st century, generating huge incomes for the organised mafias that operate and make profits through this crime. Trafficking in human beings is considered the second most lucrative criminal sector, behind drug trafficking, with an estimated income of between 32 and 36 billion dollars, according to the UN report on human trafficking (2016).
Some data to show the scale of this problem worldwide: approximately 21 million people are victims of this crime, 70% women and girls (51% and 20% respectively), 21% men and 8% children. Women and girls are the groups most vulnerable to this crime, so public policies to combat trafficking demand a rigorous and effective gender strategy. The victims come from a total of 137 countries, which gives us an accurate picture of the global problem that this crime poses.
The main causes of trafficking in human beings are, among others: poverty and growing inequalities; the proliferation of an economic model with a focus on value measurement in commercial terms, rather than a more social projection; the growing and continuous escalation of war conflicts, and; the existence of an increase in human displacements. All these factors have increased the vulnerability of large human groups whose risk of falling into criminal networks has increased exponentially.
Trafficking in persons is therefore considered to be a crime that violates rights such as freedom, physical, psychological and sexual integrity, dignity and life itself, reducing them in the mind to objects that can be used, exploited and/or marketed.
Bolivia: origin, transit and destination
In Bolivia there is data provided by the Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency, which is the body that heads the Plurinational Council in the fight against dealing and trafficking in Bolivia. This institution, together with all the Ministries, civil society and the Ombudsman, coordinates the operation of the Plurinational Policy to fight dealing and trafficking in people. In the 2016 report, a total of 829 cases were reported, of which more than 70% were women, girls and adolescents.
However, an exhaustive look at the reality of the country reveals one recurrent feature in this crime, which is its lack of visibility. It is doubtful that these data are realistic enough to describe the true dimension of this problem. Bolivia is considered a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in human beings. An origin because there are flows to Peru (mainly for sexual exploitation) and to Argentina (labour exploitation), among others, within what we know as foreign trafficking. But there is a very harsh reality in relation to internal trafficking, which occurs within the country and involves victims being displaced internally. Traditional productive sectors such as agriculture and mining hide a reality of victims of trafficking for sexual, commercial labour exploitation. The slave trade is a reality which the country has not managed to see the true impact of yet.
There is a perverse economic logic that describes the process of investment recovery, investment understood as capital devoted to recruiting, transferring and harbouring victims. The purpose of these processes is the exploitation of human beings, which is different from that of arms trafficking or drug trafficking, where the profit ends with the commercial transaction (purchase/sale). In the case of human trafficking, the rate of return is continuous, the services given in terms of prostitution, labour exploitation, slavery, etc. continue recurrently. In the trafficking of human beings, people become goods subject to continuous and recurrent exploitation.
Continuing with this economic logic, we must not forget that victims of trafficking do not enter the official channels of the labour market. This seriously harms them, since their work is not covered by future social benefits, which also results in a lack of income from these productive activities for the public coffers. The problem of trafficking is not only the complete vulnerability of the victims’ human rights, but also the detriment to the countries’ economic development, affecting their social services structure.
A project for a transnational problem
The strategy to combat this crime through the project operated by the FIIAPP, focuses on the 3 pillars: prevention, persecution and protection, known as the 3 P’s. A very ambitious training programme has been launched for public officials involved in the fight against this crime (police, prosecutors, magistrates, social services for victims, civil society, among others), mapping out a funnel-shaped strategy: from the national administration to departmental and municipal levels, since while public policies are established at a national level at a municipal level work is done directly with the personnel who attend the victims.
Regional and international trips have also been carried out with the aim of improving regional and international coordination in the fight against this crime, because we must not forget it is a transnational issue. The Departmental Councils are being backed in the fight against human trafficking with support in the formulation of the Departmental Anti-Trafficking Plans. In close coordination with the Public Ministry and the Bolivian Police, a trafficking research manual is being prepared that seeks to systematise and standardise the investigative processes in order to improve the investigative capacity of police and prosecutors and, among other things, reduce the risk of revictimisation.
At the FIIAPP we are convinced that we must continue supporting processes of change through support to public policies and alignment in the legal-regulatory framework of the countries we work with. The fight against human trafficking goes beyond an institutional commitment—it is a human obligation to position oneself on the side of those institutions and people who work for the victims and their reintegration into society.
Santiago Santos, coordinator of the project to support the strategy to fight against drug trafficking and related crimes in Bolivia
01 February 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
The project against organised crime and drug trafficking trains the institutions involved in the country
A few weeks ago, the director for Latin America and the Caribbean at EuropeAid, Jolita Butkeviciene, tweeted that “the European Union does not impose programmes, it backs national policies; this is our way of looking at cooperation”.
These statements fit perfectly with the results being achieved in the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking in Peru. This fight is being backed and supported by the European Union in an effective way through a project managed by FIIAPP, as well as additional funding amounting to 32 million euros.
In 2017, our Peruvian partners, whose national policies we back and support, achieved the best ever results in the fight against organised crime. 111 criminal drug trafficking organisations were disbanded, 78 illegal runways for transporting drugs to other countries were destroyed, and 324 cocaine laboratories were burnt down, many of them identified through intelligence work. What’s more, 22,165 hectares of coca leaves were destroyed, preventing the production of up to 204.8 tonnes of cocaine. These results are unparalleled in terms of previous years and denote a clear effort by the new Peruvian administration to improve results in this area.
The project, implemented by FIIAPP, provides training and technical assistance for the main institutions that fight against organised crime and drug trafficking in this Andean country. The Peruvian participants in this project are obtaining very good results and it has been independently verified that they are successfully applying the knowledge and tools transmitted by officials from EU member states to their Peruvian counterparts.
SUNAT Aduanas is one of the institutions being supported by this project, in this case in preventing contraband:
Also worth mentioning is the backing and support the project has given to judicial authorities to successfully resolve big national cases linked to international organised gangs, and the achievements reached in terms of intelligence, such as the creation of the first IT system to manage information to combat organized crime in Peru (SIIETID).
We live in an interconnected world and cooperation plays an essential role in resolving problems related to transnational organised crime. This influences many areas of the bi-regional European-Latin American agenda.
The problem of drug trafficking must be broken down according to its type and its impact on institutions and people. There is a large difference between a drug producing country and a drug transit or a country that consumes drugs. In Latin America, drug trafficking has a direct effect on the governability of states. The enormous amounts of money moved by organised gangs can be enough to buy governmental structures and destabilise countries—sadly, there are many examples in the region. This is without mentioning the violence it generates and the damage it does to social cohesion. In Europe, there is a deep impact in terms of crime, but it remains primarily a public health issue. Two problems which are interconnected on both sides of the Atlantic.
Through big bilateral projects managed by FIIAPP in Peru and Bolivia and regional projects like EL PAcCTO and COPOLAD, the EU backs policies aimed at combating organised crime and drug trafficking, problems which have such a large impact in both Latin America and Europe. This support is applied through an on-demand method, something which our Latin American partners really appreciate, who praise the EU’s horizontal rather than paternalistic way of working. This is definitely a recipe for obtaining good results.
In fact, this participative working method is one of the hallmarks of the ‘soft power’ approach that characterises EU cooperation. These projects, in which knowledge is shared and long-lasting links between public administrations on both sides of the Atlantic are established, are undoubtedly the best way to achieve results which are sustainable in the long term. In fact, our project has produced contact networks that are already working on researching areas related to transnational organised crime, not only between Europe and Peru but also regionally.
Public safety as a goal
However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The fight against organised crime is polycentered and involves many challenges, such as money laundering and effective collaboration between governments. To improve the quality of life of people in many Latin American countries, we need to make progress in this area as this will have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of citizens. In 2017 alone, 25,000 people were violently killed in Mexico for reasons linked to organised crime, something which should make us think about how to support our partners in the region.
Latin America is a strategic cultural and trade partner for the European Union and as such we need to a have a consistent and improved collaboration policy which helps to optimise the well-being of its population and protect the rule of law. Twenty years since its creation, there is no doubt that FIIAPP is a mature instrument that is well suited to channelling and implementing bi-regional European-Latin American cooperation projects and achieving the excellent results we are now seeing. Let’s not forget that, as outlined in the latest Elcano report, the 2016 European Global Strategy talks about a wider Atlantic space and states that the EU will try to extend cooperation and forge strong links with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Due to its extensive experience and recognition in the region, the Foundation is already a key player in achieving this goal and an important ally of European institutions in empowering the State. This is exactly why we need to keep zealously promoting the results obtained by our Latin American partners. Using facts to demonstrate that as well as strengthening our counterpart institutions on the other side of the Atlantic, more importantly, these actions improve the lives of their people.
Gerard Muñoz, coordinator of the project to fight drug trafficking in Peru
More information on the project in our area on Radio Nacional de España (RNE):