The US State Department has lauded efforts to combat human trafficking in Chile and Honduras -- two countries that face vastly different security challenges but that have come to similar conclusions on how best to take on human trafficking networks.
In the newly released 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department moved Chile up to the Tier One -- the best designation -- as a result of increased law enforcement training, interagency coordination and the development of a new action plan and victim assistance protocol.
The report highlighted the training of over one thousand police officers to combat human trafficking and the country's designation of special prosecutors in each region to oversee investigations. In addition, the US cited the country's first conviction for labor trafficking.
Honduras also received recognition for increased efforts and moved from the Tier Two Watch List -- the second lowest strata -- to Tier Two in the report. Among the country's improvements, the report emphasized an increased number of law enforcement officials dedicated to tackling human trafficking, government funding for an interagency anti-trafficking commission, and the country's first conviction for the trafficking of adults.
Nicaragua remained on the Tier One list for the third consecutive year due to the country's strong prevention programs and regional coordination of anti-trafficking efforts.
InSight Crime Analysis
Chile's strong economy makes the country a destination for victims of forced labor from other Latin American nations as well as from China and India. According to the State Department, victims are often trafficked to work in the mining, agriculture and service industries.
Although the country appears to be cracking down on sex trafficking, reports by other organizations have highlighted law enforcement failures to combat forced labor. In January this year, a representative from the International Organization for Migration in Chile warned that a lack of investigation into labor exploitation has facilitated this type of trafficking.
In Honduras, a high poverty rate and drug trafficking are two factors that play a central role in human smuggling. Drug and street gangs traffic females on the border with Nicaragua, and force young men to transport drugs and act as hit men. With high crime and homicide rates, the government's efforts to combat human trafficking are a rare positive example of how it is making improvements.
Nicaragua boasts one of the region's lowest homicide rates and has often been hailed as an example of effective law enforcement in Central America. The country's position in the 2014 human trafficking report reinforces this perception, although Nicaragua's two Atlantic autonomous regions (the RAAN and the RAAS) -- which are also important strategic zones for drug trafficking -- were identified as areas where the local population is more vulnerable to human trafficking and law enforcement efforts are insufficient.