July 1, 2019 / 5:17 PM / 3 months ago

'Lax' and 'disjointed' - auditor slams Mexico's anti-trafficking efforts

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mexico’s efforts to combat human trafficking have been disjointed and lax, an independent auditor has said in a new report, accusing the government of “disinterest”.

Mexico’s congressional auditor ASF found a litany of problems when it scrutinized the government’s efforts to combat trafficking in recent years, focusing on the period before the current administration took office.

“[Authorities] carried out actions in a disjointed way... due to poor action by the Inter-Ministerial Commission and omissions that show the disinterest and sham effort by the Mexican state to deal with this problem,” the report said.

The center of government policy to fight the crime is the Inter-Ministerial Commission Against Human Trafficking, tasked with coordinating efforts across bodies.

The ASF found issues from inconsistent meeting minutes and lax coordination with the states to disjointed training efforts and unreliable statistics.

The Interior Ministry, the Executive Commission of Attention to Victims (CEAV) and the Attorney General’s office were all scrutinized in the report. None responded immediately to requests for comment.

Mexico is an origin, transit and destination country for human trafficking, where victims are recruited using coercion or deception to be exploited.

Those targeted range from men forced to kill for criminal groups to indigenous women duped into domestic work under slave-like conditions.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has said he will stop giving financial aid to anti-human trafficking organizations as part of a campaign to end corruption and instead run shelters and victim care directly.

Activists have said that his plan lacks detail.

Lopez Obrador’s government criticized its predecessor’s human trafficking policy in March. It has not yet published its national plan to fight the crime, initially promised for April.

His administration said earlier this month it was taking decisive action to dismantle trafficking organizations as part of a deal with the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump to curb migration.

The ASF report said that the previous administration had failed create a federal fund to support victims, mandated in the 2012 law. None of the 32 state-level governments have created one either, according to the report.

The report also said that victim information registered in existing IT systems was incomplete and poor, making it of little use in decision making and holding people accountable.

Reporting by Christine Murray, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org

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