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October 19, 2023

ABA ROLI Hosts Third Dialogue Roundtable About Trafficking in Persons in Colombia

On September 13, 2023, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) organized and hosted the third dialogue roundtable event between Colombian justice sector and civil society actors called "Together for Dialogue Against Trafficking in Persons." The event included a cultural performance by Al son del Bullerengue, led by Brigitte Johana Julio, with vocals by Sheyla Vernona, as well as a panel discussion.

Cartagena, Colombia is abundant with conditions that drive human trafficking, such as high poverty levels resulting from limited economic opportunities, child and adult sexual and labor exploitation, complex migration realities for communities and authorities receiving migrants and Colombian returnees from Venezuela, as well as servicing multitudes of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In partnership with local organizations Fundación Renacer, Talitha Qum, and Corporación Caribe Afirmativo, and with support from the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, ABA ROLI is implementing the two-year program, Cartegena Free from Human Trafficking. The program aims to strengthen the justice sector's prosecution of human trafficking cases in Cartagena by improving institutional practices for investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons (TIP) cases, identifying and protecting victims, and increasing institutional awareness of TIP.

Cartagena, Colombia, 2023.

Cartagena, Colombia, 2023.

Left – Stephanie Villaronga, ABA ROLI’s Program Director for Colombia and Peru, provides opening remarks during the event. Right – Panelists from left to right: María Carolina Cortes (moderator); Olga Araujo Oñate, Prosecutor in Human Trafficking for the Caribbean Region, Colombia; Vannesa Coronado, Human Trafficking Advisor at the Ministry of Interior; Diego Camargo, Council Representative of the Isla Barú Community; and Yefry Castro, Prevention Coordinator for Fundación Renacer Cartagena.

This event promoted information and concepts related to the identification of victims and/or survivors of human trafficking, guaranteeing access to justice, breaking stereotypes to improve the search, identification, protection, and access to justice for alleged victims of this crime.

All three dialogue sessions provided a space for survivors, organizations, leaders, and institutions who have been working to counteract this problem to share their stories of the injustices which are silently affecting the citizens of Cartagena. From the discussions at the event among the parties taking part, it was possible to conclude that training justice sector officials who have competencies in this area is necessary, as is the need to develop communication strategies by the territorial entity to prevent the crime of TIP and expand access to justice, as well as develop comprehensive care for alleged victims and survivors, recognizing differential approaches.

Cartagena, Colombia, 2023.

Cartagena, Colombia, 2023.

Left – Participants of the third dialogue roundtable from the justice and social sectors. Right - Signing of a symbolic pact by those attending the roundtable against human trafficking on Barú Island

The successful event provided a platform for individuals from the community, local organizations, justice sector actors, ABA ROLI staff, and other participants to voice their concerns, make important observations, and advocate for necessary changes to improve the resources and response to the issue of trafficking in persons in Cartegena and other areas of Colombia.  

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Latin America and the Caribbean.