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Radio Program in Peru Takes Aim at Human Trafficking

Peru’s Interior Ministry has aired its first trilingual radio program to help better inform the public about human trafficking, a step in the right direction that will need additional institutional support to yield results.

Ruth Ventura’s indigenous language radio program reaches thousands in isolated communities in the Central Peruvian Amazon

The program, called So They Don’t Find You (#QueNoTeEncuentren), is part of the country’s 2017-2021 National Action Plan against human trafficking. It will be broadcast three times per week in the morning on Onda Azul radio, one of the southern city of Puno’s most listened to radio stations, El Comercio reported.

Miguel Huerta Barrón, Director General of Democratic Security within the Interior Ministry, said that the program is designed to raise awareness of the methods used by human traffickers, and to educate people about some of the warning signs around this criminal enterprise, as a means of prevention, according to El Comercio. Listeners can call into the radio program to report suspected human trafficking operations.

In addition to Spanish, the program is broadcast in Quechua and Aymara, two indigenous languages officially recognized in Peru. Outside of Puno, the broadcast can also be heard in the cities of Arequipa, Cusco, Tacna and Moquegua, and also in the border region with Bolivia, according to El Comercio.

So far this year in Puno alone, the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Investigations Department (Departamento de Investigación de Trata de Personas y Tráfico Ilícito de Migrantes – Depintrap) of the National Police has carried out 17 operations against human trafficking networks, rescuing 133 victims, according to the media report on the launch of the program.

Puno is host to one of eight specialized anti-trafficking regional prosecutor offices in Peru, according to the according to the US State Department, and indigenous Peruvians are especially vulnerable to trafficking.

Peru’s new radio program is a step in the right direction for a country that has failed to fully comply with the United States’ minimum standards to combat human trafficking since 2010, according to the US State Department’s latest Trafficking in Persons Report.

Indeed, the rates of human trafficking appear to be getting worse. The 2,033 human trafficking cases that were recorded between 2015 and 2016 in Peru were more than all of the cases recorded between 2009 and 2014, according to Peru’s Public Ministry. Peruvian police also identified 1,833 suspected trafficking victims between 2015 and 2016, according to the US State Department.

Human trafficking networks are often hidden in plain sight, so the radio program may be able to foster a more informed society that is better equipped to detect and identify both those who are the victims of traffickers and the tell-tale signs that shows such networks are operating. Ultimately, that could result in less human trafficking cases and victims all together.

But despite its reach via three different languages, the radio program alone will not be enough to make a serious impact on this criminal enterprise. Government institutions that have struggled to combat human trafficking in Peru in the past, much like the rest of the region, must compliment the program’s work with investigations and prosecutions as well as the implementation of more effective prevention efforts.