Judicial police launch anti-trafficking campaign

The campaign poster reminds readers that if a job offer is too good to be true, it probably is a fake, and a trap for labor or sexual exploitation.

The judicial police launched a campaign Monday to combat human trafficking. The campaign,  No todo es lo que parece (“Not everything is what it seems”), is a joint effort with the International Immigration Organization.

The campaign says that lack of information allows trafficking networks to snag individuals for exploitation.

The Judicial Investigating Organization has a special division for this type of crime. It is the Unidad de Trata y Tráfico de Personas. In 2010 the division handled 25 cases of suspected trafficking. Half of them were labor exploitation, including the case of fishermen who were enslaved on a foreign trawler. The division is investigating 11 cases for 2011, the agency said.

The purposes of the campaign is to provide citizens with information on the various lures trafficking organizations use to ensnare victims. Among these are offers of foreign employment. The campaign will use the Spanish-language communications media to reach the public. There are plans for print advertising and radio and television spots.

The campaign also has its own Web page and aFacebook page.

Jorge Rojas Vargas, director general of the judicial police said that the agency’s confidential line at 800-8000-645 will be a useful tool in finding out about trafficking networks.

The United States downgraded Costa Rica and put the country on the so-called watch list in the annual human trafficking report released in June.

Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, said the report. Costa Rican women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and residents of the north and central Pacific coast zones are particularly vulnerable to internal trafficking, it added.

The State Department report was critical because the country had no trafficking convictions in 2009.

A.M. Costa Rica criticized the U.S. report for lacking evidence for its claims.

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