EL SALVADOR: Tier 2
The Government of El Salvador does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous period; therefore El Salvador remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases, including forced labor; opening new offices to provide victim services, and providing services to some girl victims; and adopting and launching the UN Office on Drugs and Crime “Blue Heart” Campaign as part of its awareness-raising efforts. The government did not, however, meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not report progress in investigations of official complicity initiated in previous years, constraining overall efforts to combat trafficking. The government lacked formal procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, including individuals engaged in commercial sex. Services for adults, boys, and LGBTI victims were severely lacking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EL SALVADOR
The government reported that in a 2012 case of three prison guards arrested for facilitating sex trafficking, the anti-trafficking unit was unable to locate additional victims to strengthen its case. Regarding a 2009 investigation of trafficking-related complicity by the former head of the prosecutorial anti-trafficking unit, the Attorney General’s office reported it made efforts to locate the alleged victims; the investigation remained open at the close of the reporting period.
El Salvador’s laws provided for restitution and civil compensation awards in trafficking cases; however, victims had to work through the civil courts to receive payment. In 2017, the courts issued no judgements that included restitution or civil compensation. The government reported having procedures to provide witness protection and support, including disguising victims’ identities in court and testifying by teleconference, but did not report using these procedures. Identified trafficking victims generally were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, both government officials and NGO representatives stated police need additional procedures and training to properly identify, interact with, and protect victims, who were often mistaken for criminals and may have been punished for such crimes. Furthermore, civil society organizations reported the government treated as criminals children forced to engage in illicit activity by criminal groups, rather than providing them protection as trafficking victims. The 2014 trafficking law provided foreign trafficking victims the right to seek residency status, which would allow them to work legally, and such protection was offered to four foreign victims in 2017, who ultimately requested to be repatriated to their country of origin.