IOM Assists Victims of Human Trafficking and Strengthens Officials’ Capacity to Prosecute Traffickers in Guatemala

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One year after launching a counter-trafficking project, IOM Guatemala has assisted more than 65 victims of trafficking, exceeding expected results by more than 20 victims.
Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), which is funding the programme, and IOM, are co-hosting the symposium.

Guatemala is a country of origin, transit and destination for victims of trafficking. Guatemalan children, adolescents, women and men are trafficked for sexual or labour exploitation, illegal adoption, child pornography and sex tourism. Networks of drug traffickers, migrant smugglers and other criminals have made a lucrative business of human trafficking Guatemalans and other nationalities.

The IOM project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and working in close cooperation with “El Refugio de la Niñez” (The Children’s Shelter), supported the establishment of a shelter where girls and women victims of human trafficking receive protection and assistance, as part of the project, which also focuses on the human rights of victims of trafficking and their reintegration.

The victims remain in the shelter between six and eight months as they recovery physically and mentally from the experience. They are eventually reintegrated with their families or a substitute family.

Families receive support and are strengthened through the Escuela para padres or school for parents, which focuses on providing a healthy environment for the survivor.

Many of the persons assisted continue their education or receive training in tailoring or baking, which allows them to obtain financial resources for their families.

In August IOM provided training for 61 government officials and NGO staff working with victims.

To strengthen prevention and prosecution of the crime, the project also includes an awareness raising campaign, capacity building for prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, as well as a handbook on criminal proceedings.

IOM Guatemala recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Association for the Elimination of Prostitution, Pornography, and Sexual Tourism and Trafficking of Children and Adolescents (ECPAT by its Spanish Acronym), aimed at working together to build the capacity of all sectors involved in fighting human trafficking.

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