The Government of Paraguay does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. They vigorously investigated cases under the 2012 comprehensive anti-trafficking law and continues its cooperation with foreign governments. However, the government provides limited protective services to victims and does not provide adequate funding for anti-trafficking efforts. The government did not start any new prevention campaigns in 2017, but continued to post brochures and posters in bus terminals, airports, and border crossings.
It has comprehensive legislation relating to sexual exploitation, forced labour including child labour, slavery, servitude, forced marriage and trafficking
The government need to develop formal procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims and establish a referral mechanism to ensure victims receive care services; intensify efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers and complicit officials; provide adequate funding to the anti-trafficking secretariat to enhance comprehensive services and shelter for victims; increase training for police, labour inspectors, judges, prosecutors, and social workers; approve the 2014-2018 national action plan; fund awareness campaigns; and improve data collection and research on human trafficking.
The Comprehensive Anti-Trafficking Law 4788 of 2012 prohibits all forms of trafficking including profiting from prostitution and child pornography and prescribes penalties of up to eight years imprisonment. The Anti-Trafficking Unit (ATU) is the lead agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting traffickers. In 2016, the ATU initiated 77 investigations compared with 68 in 2015 and 80 in 2014. The ATU conducted 10 anti-trafficking trainings reaching 400 government officials, including judges, prosecutors, and police officers. Several observers report some local police chiefs receive bribes to allow the exploitation of trafficking victims.
Authorities report the budget provided is insufficient and the government relies heavily on international partners for financial support. The ATU have three teams to support and assist trafficking victims; these teams provide psychological, social, and legal assistance. The overall quality of care for victims is insufficient due to limited resources and the lack of qualified personnel.
Though not done by the government, the municipality of Asuncion proactively screens for potential victims at the bus terminal in the capital city, which is the principal hub for domestic and international land transportation. There are two shelters in the country, both located in Asuncion, dedicated to helping female trafficking victims.
Authorities encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers by offering protection through a witness protection program.
An interagency roundtable that consisted of subcommittees on prevention, prosecution, assistance, and legislation and included representatives from 16 government agencies was effective in fostering dialogue and coordination among government agencies. They organised five trainings for 261 public officials, including social service providers, municipal and department employees and lawyers as well as regional anti-trafficking meetings in 11 departments.
Paraguay is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Paraguayan women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and transgender Paraguayans are vulnerable to sex trafficking. An estimated 46,000 Paraguayan children work as domestic servants in exchange for food, board, and occasionally education or a small stipend in a system called “criadazgo”; many of these children are subjected to domestic servitude and are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking. Indigenous persons are particularly at risk for forced labour and sex trafficking. Children engaged in street vending and begging and working in agriculture, mining, brick making, and ranching are vulnerable to human trafficking. International trafficking rings often rely on local traffickers to recruit victims. Traffickers offer victims their freedom or pardon of debts if they recruit other victims and often rely on social media outlets as recruiting tools. Foreign victims of sex and labour trafficking in Paraguay are mostly from other South American countries.
Paraguayan victims of sex trafficking and forced labour are found in Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, China, Colombia, and other countries. Paraguayan women are recruited as couriers of illicit narcotics to Europe and Africa, where they are often subjected to forced prostitution. Paraguayan children are reportedly subjected to forced labour in the cultivation and sale of illicit drugs in Brazil. NGOs and authorities have reported government officials—including police, border guards, judges, and public registry employees— have facilitated human trafficking, including by taking bribes from brothel owners in exchange for protection, extorting suspected traffickers in order to prevent arrest, and producing fraudulent identity documents. Reports indicated isolated instances of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) and the Armed Peasant Association (ACA) forcibly recruiting children and adolescents from San Pedro, Concepcion, and Amambay to participate in military operations and serve in logistical and communication support roles. There were also reports of isolated instances in which female child soldiers entered into informal marriages with older EPP and ACA members.
An economic crisis in the late 1990s made the wealth divide even more stark with poverty affecting nearly half the population in the early 2000s. This has resulted in some working for no wage but only for the provision of food and accommodation only or get into debt so any wage is used to pay it off if possible. This is particularly true of the local indigenous people who are particularly disadvantaged. There is a high degree of tolerance of physical and sexual violence against women. Women in poverty are thus more likely to consider travelling abroad thinking of providing money for their family. Common countries to go to would be Argentina and Spain.