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U.S. Embassy, Inter-American Children’s Institute open workshop for specialists from institutions for the protection of children

Workshop: “Trafficking children for Sexual Exploitation and Child Pornography on the Internet in Mercosur, Bolivia and Chile.”


March 22, 2004


From left: Dr. Ariel Gustavo Forselledo, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission James Williard and Political Officer Oliver Griffith Participants in the opening session of the workshop.

The workshop, “Trafficking Children for Sexual Exploitation and Child Pornography on the Internet in MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile,” opened Monday (March 22) at the Inter-American Children’s Institute (8 de Octubre 2904). The two-day conference includes officials from the Institute and the U.S. Embassy, Montevideo, the sponsors of the program.

Dr. Ariel Gustavo Forselledo, coordinator of the Institute’s Program for Promotion of Children’s Rights, welcomed attendees from various children protection agencies in the participating countries.

He said the Institute is working with the U.S. Embassy to develop a plan to combat trafficking of persons in the region.

Forselledo said the institute plans to work with the Organization of American States (OAS) to develop an annual report on the situation in the region; organize regional events; foster the cooperation of OAS members in establishing public policies and action plans to ensure the rights of children and adolescents, and develop training for leaders of organizations involved in the protection of children.

In opening the workshop, Deputy Chief of Mission James Williard told the participants: “You are the officials on the front lines of your countries combating an abominable form of slavery that should no longer exist in the 21st century: trafficking in persons. It is a dark and uncomfortable subject, but one that must be illuminated.”

Williard cited an annual human trafficking survey conducted by the U.S. Department of State that estimated between 800,000 and 900,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders around the world every year, with 18,000 to 20,000 arriving in the US alone. He said the largest and fastest growing form of trafficking in person is for prostitution, followed by forced labor, domestic servitude and forced recruitment of children as soldiers.

“The US has taken significant action to combat trafficking in persons, including children, and our sponsorship of this conference is part of a $50 million initiative,” Williard said. “In addition, we have passed legislation that will assure that the depraved individuals who traffic and sexually abuse children will find no safe haven.”

He noted that in April 2003, the PROTECT Act was signed into law by President Bush, allowing law enforcement officers to prosecute Americans who travel abroad to abuse minors, without having prior proven intent. The law also clarifies that there is no statute of limitations for crimes involving the abduction of or physical and sexual abuse of a child. U.S “sex tourists” are now subject to domestic child abuse and child exploitation laws and they face up to 30 years imprisonment.

The objectives of the workshop are to establish a forum of exchange of information about these problems in MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile and to come to an agreement on a plan to develop national investigations in this area.

Immediately after this workshop, another session will be held, offering training on Methods of Investigation of Pornography on the Internet. This workshop is directed toward professionals of the participating countries and will be run by experts from the U.S.

In September there will be a regional conference on trafficking children and adolescents for sexual exploitation and child pornography on the Internet for MERCOSUR, Bolivia and Chile. This two-day conference will allow the presentation and discussion of the results of the investigations carried out in each participating country. Participants will also be able to exchange and coordinate efforts on initiating legislation and programming reforms.

The U.S. Embassy and the Inter-American Institute of the Children are collaborating on this issue in response to mandates received by both organizations. On Jan. 13, 2004, the U.S. Embassy and the Institute signed an agreement for the development of a joint project to combat trafficking of children and child pornography on the Internet.


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