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February 08, 2024

ABA ROLI Partner Spotlight in Colombia: Caribe Afirmativo

ABA ROLI and Caribe Afirmativo

ABA ROLI and Caribe Afirmativo

The work carried out by Caribe Afirmativo within the framework of the agreement with ABA ROLI (American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative) Colombia, has been able to influence the decisions of the new district administration of Cartagena in the fight against human trafficking.

The Cartagena Free of Human Trafficking Program implemented by the Colombian office of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in partnership with Fundación Renacer, Corporación Caribe Afirmativo and Programa Talitha Qum as grassroots community organizations, seeks to develop actions to strengthen the response of the justice sector to prevent, protect and prosecute human trafficking cases in Cartagena and the surrounding region. The Program seeks to improve investigations, prosecutions, and adjudications of human trafficking cases in Cartagena, victim identification policies and procedures, and referral pathways and services. In the development of the different actions of the Program, it is expected to reach multiple and different beneficiary populations, which will be positively impacted and provided with a platform to share their experiences and success stories, forged within the context of the Program's activities.

Please tell us about this valuable experience you have lived within the framework of the actions of the Cartagena Free of Human Trafficking Program. 

The work carried out by Caribe Afirmativo within the framework of the agreement with ABA ROLI  Colombia, has been able to influence the decisions of the new district administration of Cartagena in the fight against human trafficking. The joint work has made it possible to make the phenomenon of human trafficking in this city visible from a sexual and gender diversity perspective, contributing to the strengthening of leadership and influencing the discussion so that territorial public policy actions include differential approaches. 

Within the framework of the Cartagena Free of Trafficking project, Corporación Caribe Afirmativo, with the support of ABA ROLI, has developed actions in the city related to the prevention, protection and support of cases of LGBTIQ+ persons in contexts of human trafficking. These actions have led to the implementation of a community plan that facilitates the identification of the crime of human trafficking with community agents linked to the process; legal and psychosocial support for LGBTIQ+ persons in contexts of human trafficking; and the strengthening of institutional policies and procedures to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases in Cartagena. 

The work carried out has led to a greater visibility of the phenomenon of human trafficking in the context of Cartagena, influencing community work through the training of 30 community agents, strengthening the institutional response through capacity building for public officials and contributing to the territorial discussion through knowledge production. This is shown through the baseline report "Invisibles, an exploratory and descriptive approach to the phenomenon of human trafficking in Cartagena in terms of sexual and gender diversity". 

This report has been taken into account by the new district administration of Cartagena headed by Mayor Dumek Turbay, who has adopted decisions marked by the need to address the phenomenon of human trafficking through the issuance of various decrees such as Decree 003 of 2024, which mentions the work of Caribe Afirmativo and the recommendations of its report. However, it is important to note that this organization will continue to work with the Mayor's Office of Cartagena to raise awareness among its officials on the comprehensive approach to the fight against human trafficking, beyond "restoring public order" in the city’s historic center, which should not focus on the prohibition of prostitution, as it is not a crime under Colombian criminal law. The crime is human trafficking.

Caribe Afirmativo has taken on the task of highlighting the need to implement strategies to combat human trafficking that have a territorial, gender and anti-racist approach and, above all, do not stigmatize or put at risk the access to basic needs of LGBTIQ+ people. From there, different spaces for dialogue have been promoted between the District Mayor's Office and Caribe Afirmativo, which engages with LGBTIQ+ leaders who are part of community processes.

From this exercise, the District Mayor's Office has been urged to promote the activation of the Intersectoral Roundtable for urgent cases alongside the District Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons with a differential approach to address the crime. In addition, the need to express clear commitments within the Development Plan has been identified, as well as the need to include a Land Use Plan that guarantees security for the lives of LGBTIQ+ people living in the city’s historic center.  

ABA ROLI expects to continue strengthening the capacities of Civil Society Organizations in the territories, as well as to support the District Mayor's Office of Cartagena, to promote the adoption of public policies and political advocacy for the benefit of combating human trafficking, the protection of victims and survivors, and the strengthening of the investigation and prosecution of this crime.

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