Ecuador - Crimes associated with Migration


By means of Executive Decree Nº 1981 of August 2004, is declared as a priority policy of the State, the fight against trafficking in persons and human trafficking. Likewise, Law 2005-2 stiffens the sentences in matters of trafficking in persons and human trafficking, categorizing especially crimes of sexual exploitation of minors.

Currently, Ecuador has a new constitutional framework and an across-the-board policy in matters of Human Rights. This has allowed advancement of levels of social policy and protection of rights of all citizens to guarantee their comprehensive protection and accountability through coordination of policies at the inter-institutional level. 

Within this new and favorable environment of citizens’ rights, the country has redefined its strategies, reinforced its legal framework, and strengthened its institutions to consolidate their actions against trafficking in persons.

The tasks for execution and monitoring of the National Plan against Trafficking in Persons are charged to a group of ten ministries: Justice and Human Rights, that presides the group; Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration; Government and Police; Education; Labor; Tourism, Economic and Social Inclusion; Health; National Secretariat of the Migrant (SENAMI, for its initials in Spanish), and the Secretariat of Planning and Development (SENPLADES, for its initials in Spanish). 

The objective of the National Plan for the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons is to promote comprehensive and coordinated policies between different institutions of the State, civil society, and international organizations related to the matter. Its scope reaches the areas of prevention and fight and sanction of trafficking in persons through three axes: 1) prevention; 2) investigation and sanction; and 3) restitution of victims’ rights. These three axes operate through three working sub-commissions: Prevention; Investigation and Sanction; and Protection and Restitution of Rights.

Ecuador ratified the Protocol Against Illicit Traffic of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, that complements the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime; Convention 182 of the International Labor Organization Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor; and has ratified Conventions Nº 29 and 105 of the International Labor Organization, concerning forced and compulsory labor, and the abolition of forced labor.

Among the measures associated with the fight against trafficking in persons and illegal trafficking of migrants are the following:

  • Reinforcement of migratory controls by the National Office of Migration and coordination with the National Police to detect and detain those responsible for the commitment of this crime.
  • Creation of a division specialized in ‘anticoyoterismo’  (anti-coyote action) within the national police.
  • Execution of a letter of commitment for technical and operational strengthening of the specialized police for boys, girls and adolescents (DINAPEN, for its initials in Spanish).
  • Carrying out control operations by the General Office of Merchant Marine and Littoral Region.
  • Creation of Tourism, Migratory Matters, and Illegal Traffic of Migrants within the framework of the district attorney general’s offices of regions with a high rate of migration (Pichincha, Guayas and Galápagos, Azuay, Cañar, and Manabí).

Trafficking of migrants, categorized in the Penal Code, is sanctioned with a sentence of lack of liberty of three to six years for those that facilitate migration of national or foreign persons to other countries. Policies against trafficking of persons are addressed to migratory authorities, so they may exercise greater migratory controls over traffickers and employers. Several operations have been carried out to detain those dedicated to trafficking of persons, and to locate witnesses and victims, so they may take part in trials of those detained. 

Trafficking in persons, also categorized in the Penal Code, is defined as the behavior of whom promotes, induces, facilitates, or favors the recruitment, movement, acceptance, reception, or delivery of persons resorting to threat, violence, or deceit, or any fraudulent form, with purposes of illicit exploitation, with or without profiteering; considering exploitation as all forms of forced labor or service, labor slavery, the sale and/or use of persons for mendicancy, armed conflicts, or recruitment for criminal purposes.