UN asks Colombia for more resources and protection for victims of human trafficking

The UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Siobhán Mullally, asked Colombia on Tuesday for more resources and measures to deal with trafficking in persons after a visit to the country in which she warned that this crime continues to undermine the peacebuilding.

“Protection measures must be long-term and have all the necessary resources,” insisted the special rapporteur.

Mullally specified at a press conference in Bogotá that all types of exploitation and trafficking are present in Colombia, including forced recruitment of minors, forced labor of minors, forced marriage and sexual exploitation, among others.

He recalled that this is a serious violation of human rights and a serious crime under international humanitarian law.

The representative placed special emphasis on the protection of children against the crime of trafficking, particularly in the context of the armed conflict, due to the recruitment and use of minors by non-state armed groups.

In the case of boys, he said, they are used in indirect combat, while girls are victims of sexual crimes.

In this sense, it expressed special concern about the limited assistance and protection of minors who escape from armed groups, who are victims of reprisals.

“Trafficking in persons is committed by non-state armed groups and criminal organizations to support their activities and control communities,” he explained, adding that it especially affects Afro-Colombian and rural communities, indigenous peoples, and Venezuelan migrants.

MIGRATION

Migration was precisely another of the key points addressed by the rapporteur, who insisted on the need to increase the institutional presence and the protection of victims at border crossings, taking into account that Colombia is increasingly consolidating as a country of migrant transit.

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He denounced that Venezuelan women and girls are especially vulnerable to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Regarding accompanied minors in migratory transit, he called for “urgent actions” to expand institutional capacity where there is a high risk of trafficking.

The Special Rapporteur thanked the Colombian government for its “excellent cooperation and constructive engagement” during the visit, as well as the “cooperative approach of all authorities” to “engage in a constructive dialogue.”

He highlighted the need to strengthen assistance to victims of trafficking with shelters and safe accommodation, especially in conflict zones, rural areas and regions affected by migration, while calling for more funding for local authorities helping these people.

“In the absence of assistance and protection, victims are vulnerable to re-victimization,” he warned.

Lastly, he called for promoting accountability, strengthening prevention, and ensuring effective investigations.

“Access to remedies must be guaranteed for victims of conflict-related trafficking, for all exploitative purposes, including forced recruitment, use of children, sexual exploitation and slavery, forced labor, domestic servitude, and forced crime,” he said.

During his visit to Colombia, Mullally visited the cities of Cartagena de Indias, Cúcuta, Medellín, Apartadó, Necoclí, Pasto and Ipiales, where he met with social leaders, human rights defenders and victims of trafficking.

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