The government maintained victim protection. MITP identified 37 female trafficking victims (two for labor trafficking and 35 for sex trafficking), compared with 41 victims in 2018, 21 victims in 2017, and 23 in 2016. The government identified only two child trafficking victims during the reporting period, the same number identified in 2018; the remaining 35 victims were adult women. Authorities identified no male trafficking victims during the reporting period. Government officials identified growing migrant populations, especially irregular Venezuelan migrants, as increasingly at risk of trafficking due to stricter visa laws enacted in June 2019. In some cases, Chilean officials allowed Venezuelan migrants to gain legal entry on recently expired identity documents, thereby reducing vulnerability to trafficking. Although most trafficking victims entered Chile on tourist visas, authorities identified two victims in 2019 who entered the country unlawfully. The National Service of Women and Gender Equality (SERNAMEG) provided shelter and legal service to 15 female victims amongst the 37 victims of trafficking. The MP provided housing to most victims, while the SERNAMEG shelter directly assisted four female victims identified in 2019 and other victims identified in previous reporting periods. The MITP’s protocol on victim assistance entitled victims to safe housing, health services, psychological services, legal assistance, education, employment assistance, and regularization of migratory status. However, provision of victim services remained uneven across the country, and NGOs reported funding was inadequate to provide necessary services, especially shelters for minors and male victims. The government did not fund most NGOs that provided victim assistance; most agencies did not have specific line items in their budgets for victim assistance. Reintegration services, such as education and job placement assistance, were insufficient, and officials reported access to adequate mental health services was expensive and limited.
The national prosecutor’s office’s Regional Victims and Witness Assistance Unit (URAVIT) budgeted approximately 17.2 million pesos ($22,890) to provide housing and other basic needs for trafficking victims in 2019. SERNAMEG allocated 127 million Chilean pesos ($169,000) to fund the NGO-operated shelter for women victims of trafficking, smuggled women, and their children, a decrease compared to the 140 million Chilean pesos ($186,300) allocated in 2018. The government also had domestic violence shelters that housed trafficking victims, although these shelters did not necessarily provide specialized services for trafficking victims. The URAVIT arranged housing for male victims; however, there were no shelters specifically for male victims. Shelter services for vulnerable migrant victims were administered by local NGOs. The Ministry of Interior created official agreements on legal representation and civil restitution for victims with the Ministry of Justice. SENAME provided basic services to child sex trafficking victims through 18 NGO-operated programs for minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation and its national network of residential centers. SENAME allocated 3.37 billion pesos ($4.48 million) to these programs for child and adolescent victim services in 2019, compared to three billion Chilean pesos ($3.99 million) in 2018. SENAME assisted 1,477 children in 2019, compared with 1,459 children in 2018 and 1,350 children in 2017. SENAME did not track how many of the children it assisted were victims of trafficking. SENAME noted 32 children or adolescents were identified by the worst forms of child labor registry as victims of commercial sexual exploitation, though it was not clear how many of these cases qualified as trafficking under international law. During the reporting period, media sources published an unofficially released government report on investigation into mistreatment and abuse at SENAME-affiliated care facilities. The 2017 report revealed severe, consistent deficiencies and systematic abuse in operational protocols at residential centers, which violated children’s rights and endangered lives. Analysts identified rights violations in 100 percent of the residential facilities most commonly serving child and adolescent trafficking victims (Specialized Redress Centers under Direct Administration, or CREADs). Further, investigators determined children in 50 percent of these centers had been sexually abused by staff, non-staff, and/or fellow residents. Since the report’s completion, the government has taken steps to address the system’s failings, including creating an under-secretariat and an ombudsman’s office to advocate children’s issues and introducing legislation to restructure SENAME. In 2019, the government began closing CREADs, replacing them with smaller “family-style residences;” officials anticipated it would take two years to decommission all CREAD facilities.
The Ministry of Health hosted a series of internal workshops on victim identification and assistance for public health officials. The MP and the labor directorate updated their guidelines on identifying and assisting potential trafficking victims. The government issued 13 no-fee visas for foreign trafficking victims, compared to 17 in 2018; two additional requests were pending. The visa is valid for up to one year, renewable for up to two years if the victim reported the trafficking crime to the prosecutor’s office. An international organization assisted in the repatriation of one foreign trafficking victim. Foreign victims received the same victim services and methods of participation in court—such as teleconference, witness protection, and video testimony—as Chilean victims. Courts in six regions implemented a new policy in October 2019, requiring all child and adolescent victims to testify by video and with an expert intermediary to avoid re-traumatization, but the policy was not scheduled to take effect nationwide until 2021. Judges often held accused traffickers in pretrial detention. Despite these efforts, the government reported challenges in encouraging victims to participate in a full trial. The government did not report granting any victims restitution through civil or criminal cases in 2019. An international organization has expressed concern that striking workers in certain industries could be imprisoned and forced to work.