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    A picture, part of the art project called "Heroes Without Borders" is seen on the roof of a house in a neighborhood of northeast Medellín, Colombia, Jan. 30, 2012. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 July 2017

Over 320 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The Colombian authorities revealed Sunday that an alarming number of Colombian women were victims of human trafficking, a day that also marked the United Nations World Day against Human Trafficking.

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Between 2012 and 2017, 328 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC. Out of the total number of cases, 86.5 percent of those identified were women while 13.5 percent were men. Nearly 61 of reported cases were children and adolescents, the prosecutor's office reported.

"In the last five years, the registered victims came from Medellin, Bogota, Manizales, Armenia, Pereira and Cali, and the main destinations of exploitation abroad were Dominican Republic, China, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Panama, Paraguay and the United Arab Emirates," according to the Colombian High Commission on Human Rights.

"Our best action to protect and prevent is to stop indifference."

"Today we put an end to human trafficking."

The Colombian government wants to use law 1069, the national anti-trafficking law, to help protect victims and lower the rates of human trafficking. The law consists of several provisions like emergency trafficking victim protection and assistance, educational services, medical and psychological assessments, clothing and hygiene kits, housing, transportation, legal advice, issuance of travel and identity documents, and repatriation, job training, and job search assistance.

The government removed "a legal requirement for victims to file a complaint against their traffickers before receiving assistance," the U.S. State Department's 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report stated. The government also designated the Interagency Committee for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons, ICFTP to design policies, analyze results, and recommend actions.

But according to the U.S. State Department report, even though Colombia has made significant leaps in combating trafficking in the country, it "failed to fund the national anti-trafficking strategy, reduced funding for specialized NGOs, and long-term care for trafficking victims remained insufficient."

Article 188 A of the penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes punishments of 13 to 23 years in prison plus fines up to 1,500 times the monthly minimum wage, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

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