The government maintained efforts to protect victims, although it was difficult to assess victim identification and assistance efforts as government entities used different definitions of trafficking. Authorities continued to use guidance provided by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for all federal, state, and local governments on victim identification and assistance, but the government did not report updating the guidance to reflect requirements and provisions of the new legislation. Law 13.344 mandates the government to provide victims with temporary shelter, legal, social, and health assistance, and protection against re-victimization. In 2016, the government, in conjunction with an international organization, developed specific guidance for assistance to migrants, refugees, returned Brazilians, and trafficking victims in border areas. Sixteen of 27 state governments operated state-level anti-trafficking offices (NETPs) that referred victims to social assistance centers (CREAs). NETPs varied in effectiveness and generally only referred victims of sex trafficking crimes. CREAs also worked with victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, and domestic violence. Specialized MOL divisions provided victims of forced labor job training services, three months of unemployment pay, and limited counseling services. Observers indicated some of the NETPs had effective assistance and coordination teams comprised of police offices, prosecutors, and mental health professionals, whereas other state offices were not as well equipped to assist victims. The anti-trafficking offices that are located in major points of transport, like airports and bus stations, and NETPs released their semester report for the first half of 2016 and reported monitoring 237 trafficking cases, providing services to 383 individuals, including 233 children and adolescents, and reaching 10,183 individuals through seminars, lectures, and trainings. For the same period in 2015, the government reported providing services to 528 potential sex trafficking and 176 potential labor trafficking victims. MOL mobile inspection units identified 885 laborers in situations of trabalho escravo in 2016, (1,010 in 2015 and 1,509 in 2014) more than 50 percent in agriculture and ranching. Officials did not report the number of victims of domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation of children identified in 2016.
The federal government did not fund specialized or long-term shelters for trafficking victims; instead, it often placed them in shelters for victims of domestic violence or centers for migrant assistance. There were no specialized services for male and transgender sex trafficking victims. Specialized shelters for child sex trafficking victims were lacking, and guardianship councils often did not have the expertise or resources to identify child victims correctly and refer them to services. General victim services and shelters varied in quality from state to state and generally remained underfunded and inadequate. The state of Sao Paulo maintained a shelter where female victims of trafficking and their children could receive health benefits, education, food, and housing for three to six months. Another shelter in the same state provided temporary assistance for refugees and trafficking victims, but the government did not report how many victims stayed at the shelter. In 2016, there were 2,521 specialized social assistance centers across the country where psychologists and social workers assisted vulnerable people (compared with 2,374 centers in 2015.) In 2016, many centers remained underfunded; however, 988 centers were certified to assist trafficking victims an increase from 675 centers in 2015. Authorities reported assisting 843 trafficking victims (598 men, 182 women, 33 boys, and 30 girls) in 2016, compared with 673 trafficking victims assisted in 2015 (363 men, 185 women, 55 boys, and 70 girls.)
Most identified victims of trabalho escravo remained vulnerable to re-trafficking due to lack of adequate assistance and limited employment options; however, the government sought to address this issue by offering vocational training. State governments in Mato Grosso, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and the “Bico do Papagaio” region continued to offer vocational training to victims of trabalho escravo. The ministries of labor and social development continued to provide trabalho escravo victims access to public services by including the victims in the registry for social programs, granting them priority access to a cash transfer program, unemployment insurance, subsidized low-income housing, a 60 percent discount on energy bills, and technical assistance—all implemented at municipal-level centers for social assistance.
During the reporting period, the MOJ reported the judicial system began incorporating live video testimony into trials to encourage victims of crimes to testify against their perpetrators and do so from the location of their choice. Authorities indicated video testimony had not been used in a trafficking trial yet. Sex trafficking victims serving as witnesses were eligible for a short-term protection program, although authorities did not report how many victims received protection in 2016, compared with two trafficking victims who received protection in 2015. Foreign sex trafficking victims were entitled to permanent visa status, but authorities did not report how many victims received it in 2016, compared to one victim in 2015. The government provided repatriation assistance for Brazilian nationals subjected to trafficking abroad, as well as for foreign nationals who were subjected to trafficking in Brazil who wish to return to their country of origin. It was unclear how many victims received repatriation assistance in 2016. There were no reports of victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking.