On June 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) released the yearly Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for 2020. The 20th edition of the report primarily consisted of analyses and narratives of the state of trafficking in each country recognized by the USDOS, with a special emphasis on law enforcement efforts.
At Partners of the Americas (Partners), the Child Protection Unit’s (CPU) programs directly tackle many of the issues of child, labor, and sex trafficking addressed in the report’s country narratives and regional analyses. By implementing the USDOS-funded Ñande Ko’ê and USDOL-funded Attaining Lasting Change Paraguay (ATLAS Paraguay), Partners hopes to strengthen Paraguay’s capacity to address and eradicate TIP in the country.
Within the report’s country narratives, each country is classified among one of four tiers, depending on how well the country's government meets the minimum standards of the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). A country ranked at Tier 1 fully meets the TVPA’s minimum standards. If it ranks in Tier 2, the country does not meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to comply with them. The Tier 2 Watch List signifies that the TVPA’s minimum standards are not fully met, and while the country is making efforts, trafficking is rising. Finally, if a country ranks in Tier 3, its government does not fully meet the minimum standards and is not making significant efforts to do so.
Graphic created by Partners' CPU based on the 2020 USDOS-TIP Report
This year, the report’s regional analysis indicates that 19 out of 31 countries (61%) in the Western Hemisphere rank within Tier 2 (Yellow). Comparatively, 19% of countries rank within Tier 1 (Green), 10% on the Tier 2 Watch List (Orange), and another 10% in Tier 3 (Red).
2020 USDOS-TIP Report
The report’s analysis and recommendations for Paraguay align directly with both Ñande Ko’ê’s and ATLAS Paraguay’s project goals. Paraguay has consistently ranked in Tier 2 for the past six years, meaning that it does not fully meet standards for the elimination of TIP but is making significant efforts to do so. According to the report, efforts to eliminate TIP increased from 2018, with more traffickers identified, prosecuted, and convicted. The country's initiatives also improved in terms of international cooperation, as well as opening a new shelter for child and adolescent TIP victims.
However, the USDOS-TIP Report asserts that Paraguay did not meet standards for the elimination of TIP in several areas. Victim services were insufficient, government cooperation with civil society was inadequate, identification protocol and referral mechanisms were poorly utilized, and the government did not update its national action plan to comply with international law.
Partners Child Protection Unit, 2020
The CPU’s Ñande Ko’ê and ATLAS Paraguay projects are working to strengthen the country’s governmental capacity to address TIP and move toward an improved ranking. Ñande Ko’ê (“Our Sunrise”, in Guaraní) has worked to combat TIP in Paraguay since April 2019 and aims to strengthen Paraguay’s capacity to prevent and report cases of TIP and protect victims, particularly those of sex and labor trafficking. As Sub-awardees to Winrock International, the CPU has implemented ATLAS Paraguay since April 2019. This global project works to increase the capacity of host governments to reduce child labor, forced labor, and TIP in four countries, including Paraguay.
Partners' CPU, 2020
In response to Paraguay’s shortcomings in combating TIP, the USDOS report outlined several strategic recommendations for Paraguay. The report recommended that Paraguay increase their investigation and prosecution of traffickers, sentence traffickers to significant prison terms, increase funding and training to implement victim identification protocols and referral mechanisms, and increase victim services. It also recommended that the country’s laws are strengthened to comply with international law and improve interagency coordination.
Partners' CPU, 2020
Ñande Ko’ê and ATLAS Paraguay are directly facilitating Paraguay’s implementation of these recommendations. Working with local partners, in the past six months, Ñande Ko’ê has conducted a variety of in-person and virtual training sessions for law enforcement officials and civil society actors. These trainings help officials identify cases of TIP and refer cases to the appropriate agencies. In addition, in June 2020, Ñande Ko’ê completed a formal Referral Mechanism to guarantee that TIP victims receive comprehensive services in Paraguay.
In the past four months, ATLAS Paraguay has held several meetings with governmental institutions in Paraguay, such as the Ministry of Childhood and Adolescence (MINNA), the Office of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security (MTESS). The project has encouraged their participation in several anti-trafficking activities, including trainings and public awareness events. ATLAS Paraguay is facilitating interagency cooperation in Paraguay against TIP, with the hopes that this will increase enforcement efforts.
Recently, the two projects have undertaken efforts to counter the possible effects of COVID-19 on TIP. According to the United Nations, the pandemic has put TIP victims at further risk of exploitation. Due to closed borders, victims are unable to return home when they are identified and many victims face delays in legal proceedings and protections provided by government and civil society actors. Children are particularly at risk, as the economic desperation of many families may leave them vulnerable to exploitation.
Ñande Ko’ê and ATLAS Paraguay have effectively countered the challenges posed by COVID-19 by moving their scheduled trainings to virtual platforms. In the past three months, Ñande Ko’ê has held six virtual trainings and workshops to train national and local officials on national and international trafficking law, victim identification, and victim care services. The project also hosted and supported four webinars in July 2020, in commemoration of Paraguay’s Month to Prevent TIP.
ATLAS Paraguay has conducted meetings with key actors from the Government of Paraguay during the pandemic to maintain constant communication and emphasize the new challenges posed by the pandemic. The project continues to conduct a training curriculum to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement officials in different steps of TIP case processes.
Despite facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Partners’ CPU programs are working alongside and in partnership with the USDOS and USDOL to combat TIP. As TIP continues to pose a significant challenge in Paraguay and across the Americas, Partners’ programs are helping to prevent it, identify and assist its victims, and ensure that traffickers are prosecuted under the law. By implementing such measures and facilitating strong local partnerships, Partners hopes to significantly reduce trafficking across the Americas, with the hope of eradicating it once and for all.