A campaign to improve Central America’s network in preventing human trafficking crimes has hit Costa Rica. Tuesday Gerardo Bravo, an investigator with Nicaragua’s Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas, presented a campaign and a subsequent study on trafficking in the region and a series of recommendations to better confront the mistreatment of those moved for forced labor or for prostitution.
The public policy institute conducted the study that said nearly 1,500 cases of human sex trafficking occurred last year, although many go uncovered. One of the campaign’s principal objectives is to visualize patterns of illegal trafficking that occur from the border and goes into the tourist areas of Costa Rica.
The country is currently investigating five cases of illegal sex trafficking, according to Kathya Rodríguez, the director of immigration. “It’s hard to say that we’re losing the battle,” Ms. Rodríguez said. “Many of these activities are not done out in the open.”
In general, the plan that is directed at both Costa Rica and Nicaragua seeks out women and girls aged 12 to 35 who live in high-risk areas marked as susceptible to sex trafficking operations. The $70,000 campaign titled “Strengthening bonds to prevent trafficking in Central America” will set up protection plans for victims that involve reparation payments compensating them based on the damage done to them. It also involves plans to prosecute criminals potentially involved in trafficking with a specialized prosecution unit and system designed to harshly punish repeat offenders.
In late June, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on human trafficking and concluded that Costa Rica is a high volume zone for sex and forced labor trafficking. It said that women and young girls from mostly Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have been identified as victims of sex trafficking in the country. This was the first year it brought up issues of transgender Costa Ricans in the sex industry.