Colombia is on the offensive with sex tourism after announcing last month at the Tourism Tech Adventure Fair in Cartagena of a new database of offenders. “Technology is a very important tool that can help us with the legality in the tourism sector,” remarked President Iván Duque, emphasizing the zero-tolerance stance with a scourge that affects every city in the country, and has resulted in multiple arrests of foreigners.
The online registry listing the names of those who have committed sex crimes in Colombia will be free access. For President Duque, the databases as much of a deterrent to future offenders coming to the country as it is a “moral and social” sanction by the public. The database is aimed at hotels, apartment renters and tour operators to consult the profiles of known offenders. “I do not want, under any circumstance, that this city (Cartagena) caves into ‘sexual tourism’ by using apartments to abuse children!,” remarked President Duque at the fair that showcased new digital services for the country’s rapidly expanding tourism sector.
For a city that welcomed two million visitors in 2018, Cartagena’s image has been tarnished by the series of sex-trafficking scandals involving minors, which resulted in the largest police action against human trafficking and exploitation in the country’s history. In a coordinated effort between the National Police, Office of the Attorney General and Migración Colombia, 18 individuals were arrested in the port city in 13 separate raids as part of Operation Vesta. Among those arrested were two Israeli citizens, Laid Tsukrel and Samuel Schraer who were charged with sexually exploiting minors during parties in the affluent Bocagrande district of the city. Authorities claim sophisticated criminal networks are behind Cartagena’s sex and child abuse industry.
In another government announcement aimed at combating tax evasion by foreigners in the country, the Directorate of National Taxes and Customs (Dian) and Migración Colombia, the official immigration authority, signed a cooperation agreement to share information. The measure identifies those nationals and foreigners who use the country to launder money, hide assets or evade international taxation obligations. For Christian Krüger, director of Migración Colombia, by joining forces both entities can “anticipate situations that put the national security at risk and exercise greater migratory control.” The exchange of information agreement includes tax records of foreign residents in Colombia.