Commissioners: Margarette May Macaulay, Paulo Vannuchi, Esmeralda A. De Trotino
Petitioners: Instituto Promoviendo Desarrollo Social (IPRODES)
On March 21, 2017 Petitioners, Instituto Promoviendo Desarrollo Social (Institute for the Promotion of Social Development or IPRODES), argued for a stable and proportional public budget to better address the trafficking of children and adolescents at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The trafficking of children and youth is a problem which has been running rampant throughout Peru. In addition to this budget proposal, Petitioners called for the formation of a database in order to track and monitor trafficked minors to ensure that, once rescued, they are not trafficked again. Finally, Petitioners pushed for the establishment of a program, or system, that will provide children swifter and more efficient access to the justice system. The main goals of the proposed system are to guarantee access to lawyers and specialized prosecutors as well as provide training to judges, so they may be able to better handle these types of complex and often sensitive cases.
The spokesman for IPRODES, Ronald Gamarra Herrara, accused the Peruvian government of lacking the willingness to prevent violence against girls and boys, and then subsequently failing to address the problems these children have accessing the justice system at all, let alone a justice system that understands their needs. He argued that, given the short prison sentences for those convicted of child trafficking, traffickers essentially operate with impunity.
Additionally, he criticized the program of institutionalization that many regions within Peru utilize. Institutionalization is a program that places children rescued from trafficking in institutions with other previously trafficked children, instead of returning the children to their families. The spokesman from IPRODES stated that institutionalization stigmatizes children who have been trafficked and is linked to a high rate of re-victimization. Ultimately, IPRODES tied these failing programs to the startling lack of financial support for more efficient measures to target human trafficking.
Representing Peru, Iván Bazán Chacón, the country’s supranational deputy prosecutor said that the state was currently working on a new and important measure to address the budget reduction problem within the area of human trafficking. He acknowledged that human trafficking has been a steadily increasing problem plaguing the state because traffickers see Peru as a transit country, where children can be picked up or dropped off. He also discussed programs that are already in place to limit current trafficking operations and prevent future ones. Additionally, the deputy prosecutor announced that the State is developing a national plan to target human trafficking for the period of 2017-2021.
Commissioners Paulo Vannuchi, Margarette May Macaulay, and Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, were largely concerned about the complex framework behind the human trafficking rings. Commissioner Arsemena de Troitiño discussed the economic force behind human trafficking networks, impairing prevention and prosecution efforts. Consequently, she emphasized the need for a comprehensive national system of protection for children. She also expressed concern and shock over the record of re-victimization in Peru. As a result, she implored the State to research how to effectively guarantee that children rescued from these networks are protected and their rights maintained. Next, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay stressed the importance of a sufficient budget and strong political will necessary to address this multifarious issue.
In summary, Petitioners called for stronger support from the government to show their willingness to combat the trafficking of children and adolescents, emphasizing the importance of financial support to achieve this initiative. The State of Peru recognizes the shortcomings of the current institutions in place and made a commitment to call for a more robust budget to target this pervasive problem.
Author’s Legal Analysis
Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Peru is a party, slavery and the slave trade “in all their forms” are prohibited. Human trafficking violates Article 6, which recognizes a citizen’s right to recognition “as a person before the law” and Article 5, which states that “no one shall be subjected to . . . cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The American Convention on Human Rights echoes these same principles in Article 6: Freedom from Slavery and Article 7: Right to Personal Liberty. Most importantly, the current situation of child trafficking in Peru violates the Rights of a Child under Article 19 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which states that every child “has the right to the measures of protection required by his condition.” Thus, it is within Peru’s interest to combat human trafficking, as the country is violating its international obligations.