BRAZIL: Tier 2

The Government of Brazil does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Brazil remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by passing a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, investigating and prosecuting suspected traffickers under the new law, conducting more prevention campaigns, beginning the development of a centralized judicial database to track trafficking cases, and making efforts to reduce demand for forced labor. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not report the total number of final convictions its courts issued during the year or the number of victims that received assistance in the latter part of 2016. Further, the government did not provide specialized shelters for victims of trafficking or adequate long-term care. The lack of adequate care left victims vulnerable to re-trafficking.

Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking cases and convict and punish traffickers, including complicit officials; prosecute labor traffickers in criminal courts; increase funding for specialized services, including housing for victims of sex trafficking and forced labor; improve federal and state law enforcement cooperation and communication on trafficking cases; enhance efforts to identify child victims in domestic servitude and sex trafficking; robustly implement the anti-trafficking law and make full use of institutions and mechanisms already in place; train federal, state, and municipal law enforcement officials on proactive identification of victims; amend the 2016 anti-trafficking law to criminalize child sex trafficking without elements of force, fraud, or coercion; update referral mechanism guidance to reflect the provisions covered under the new law; increase specialized services for child trafficking victims, including case management assistance and oversight of local guardianship councils; collect judicial case data from all states to improve and better understand the response to trafficking cases; increase efforts to investigate cases of labor trafficking and add more labor inspectors trained to recognize and report indicia of forced labor; and finalize and begin implementing the third national action plan for the elimination of trafficking.

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. In October 2016, the government passed law 13.344, a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that criminalizes all forms of trafficking in persons and updated existing statutes to generally harmonize the definition of trafficking with international law. Article 149a of the new anti-trafficking law criminalizes brokering, enticing, recruiting, transporting, transferring, buying, harboring, or receiving a person by grave threat, violence, coercion, fraud, or abuse for the purpose of organ removal, forced labor (any kind of servitude or conditions analogous to slavery), illegal adoption, or sexual exploitation. Although article 149a does not appear to include an exemption from force, fraud, or coercion for the sex trafficking of children, article 244A of the child and adolescent statute criminalizes inducing a child to engage in sexual exploitation, without the need to prove that means of force, fraud, or coercion were used. Article 149 prohibits trabalho escravo, or reducing a person to a condition analogous to slavery, defining forced labor to include degrading work conditions and exhausting work hours, going beyond situations in which people are held in service through force, fraud, or coercion. While not all individuals in trabalho escravo are forced labor victims, many are. In 2016, Brazilian lawmakers introduced legislation to redefine trabalho escravo to only include instances of forced labor. The new anti-trafficking law increases prescribed penalties to four to eight years imprisonment and a fine, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The sentence can be reduced by one- to two-thirds if the defendant is a first-time offender, acted alone and not as part of a criminal organization. Penalties can be increased by one-third to one-half if the crime was committed by a public official; the victim is a minor or a disabled person; there is a personal or familial relationship with the victim; or if the victim was removed from the country.

Contrary to previous years when law enforcement data might have included state and federal efforts, the 2016 investigation and prosecution data only includes information under federal jurisdiction. In 2016, authorities reported 103 new and ongoing investigations under articles 231 and 231a, 22 new and 20 ongoing investigations under article 149, and 22 investigations under article 149a of the new anti-trafficking law (compared with 374 ongoing and 97 new investigations under articles 231 and 231a, and 296 investigations under article 149 in 2015). The government reported 104 new or ongoing prosecutions under articles 231 and 231a; 31 ongoing prosecutions under article 149; and six new prosecutions under the new anti-trafficking law, three under article 149 and three under article 149a (compared with 97 new or ongoing prosecutions under articles 231 and 231a, and 65 under article 149 in 2015). Authorities reported one final trafficking conviction in a higher court and 22 convictions by lower courts, compared with 12 convicted traffickers in lower courts in 2015. The government did not report the number of investigations and prosecutions in the lower courts. Most sex and labor traffickers convicted by lower courts appealed their convictions; there were 29 appeals related to trafficking cases in federal court system in 2016 (compared with 43 in 2015). The appeals process lasted years and hampered Brazil’s overall law enforcement efforts. Authorities estimated 102 million cases were pending review in the Brazilian court system in 2015 and rulings in eight of every 10 cases were not enforced due to recurring appeals. The government did not report the length of sentences given; however, most convicted traffickers served these sentences under house arrest or by spending only nights in prison while being free during the day. The government treated forced labor as a distinct crime from sex trafficking. The Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) inspectors, prosecutors, and courts handled cases of trabalho escravo. This resulted in uneven interagency coordination of anti-trafficking efforts. Labor inspectors and labor prosecutors could apply only civil penalties, and the government did not report criminal prosecution of any trabalho escravo cases. The MOL conducted 5,376 inspections in 2016, a decrease from 7,263 inspections in 2015, following eight months of strikes by labor inspectors.

The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) had a unit in every state and was involved in the investigation of most trafficking crimes. In some states, the DPF worked efficiently with state and municipal law enforcement entities; however, law enforcement cooperation and communication among the DPF and state and municipal entities was generally insufficient. Law enforcement units at all levels had insufficient funding, expertise, and staff to investigate trafficking. NGOs indicated that, for the most part, the DPF competently handled identified trafficking cases; however, specialized training for all law enforcement entities on trafficking indicators was lacking. In Sao Paulo, the municipal government trained the police to detect signs of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government collaborated with an international organization to provide a five-day training for several judges and prosecutors on the implementation of the new anti-trafficking law. In 2016, the National Justice Council (CNJ) launched FONTET—a national forum tasked with increasing judicial efficiency in the handling of trafficking cases and ensuring that victims are not penalized for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking. CNJ and FONTET jointly began centralizing judicial case information into a database where the status of all cases pending in Brazilian courts, including trafficking cases, would be available; however, the database did not include data from all states. In December 2016, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights ruled against Brazil in a historic case where for the first time it fined a country for failing to prevent slavery within its borders and ordered the government to pay $5 million to 128 farm workers who were enslaved from 1988 to 2000 and to reopen the investigation. Some cases of official complicity remained open. The investigation of an elected official, who in October 2016 was removed from his position in Parana state after allegations of involvement in a child sex trafficking ring, remained ongoing. An appeal by the prosecution of an inadequate sentence given to a civil police investigator for his involvement in a prostitution ring involving children remained ongoing. After filing a habeas corpus petition, courts released a former state legislator sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for trafficking crimes after four months.

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.

The government increased prevention efforts. The 2013-2016 second national action plan for the elimination of trafficking expired in December 2016. The anti-trafficking inter-ministerial group held consultations with civil society to discuss lessons learned and met to analyze progress made on the second national action plan. In coordination with civil society, the government began planning a third national action plan. Coordination among agencies working on anti-trafficking initiatives at the national and state level was uneven and varied in efficacy. State and federal authorities reported reduced budgets and other pressing government priorities limited, and will continue to limit, their ability to implement anti-trafficking efforts. Federal, state, and municipal entities undertook anti-trafficking initiatives and awareness efforts. The government continued to participate in the Blue Heart campaign focused on raising awareness on the plight of trafficking victims and gaining political support for the prosecution of traffickers. Municipal and state governments hosted workshops, trainings, performances, and roundtable discussions to commemorate World Day Against Trafficking. In Rio de Janeiro, the state government, in collaboration with an NGO, conducted awareness campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of false employment opportunities. In March 2017, the MOL resumed publication of the lista suja, or dirty list, after a nearly three-year legal dispute over its release. The list identified individuals and businesses responsible for trabalho escravo. Businesses listed were denied access to credit by public and private financial institutions. In 2017, the list included 68 businesses, compared with 609 businesses listed in May 2014, when it was last released. Authorities continued efforts against child sex tourism by enhancing law enforcement cooperation and information sharing with foreign governments; however, the government did not report any new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of child sex tourists in 2016. In collaboration with a network of religious leaders in 26 states, the government launched a campaign to promote general awareness of trafficking in persons and preventing sex tourism. Military troops received anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.

As reported over the past five years, Brazil is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Brazilian women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country; federal police report higher rates of children exploited in sex trafficking in the north and northeast regions. Brazilian women are subjected to sex trafficking abroad, especially in Western Europe and China. Women and girls from other South American countries, including Paraguay, are exploited in sex trafficking in Brazil. Transgender Brazilians are forced into prostitution in Brazil. Brazilian men and transgender Brazilians have been exploited in sex trafficking in Spain and Italy. Child sex tourism remains a problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas; many child sex tourists are from Europe, and to a lesser extent, the United States. Some Brazilian men, and to lesser extent women and children, are subjected to trabalho escravo and debt bondage in rural areas, including in ranching, agriculture, charcoal production, logging, and mining. Exploitation of workers is sometimes linked to environmental damage and deforestation, particularly in the Amazon region. Brazilians are also found in trabalho escravo in urban areas in construction, factories, and the restaurant and hospitality industries. Brazilian women and children, as well as girls from other countries in the region, are exploited in domestic servitude; approximately 213,000 children are employed as domestic workers in Brazil. Some Brazilian trafficking victims are forced to engage in criminal activity, including drug trafficking, in Brazil and neighboring countries. Brazilian forced labor victims have been identified in other countries, including in Europe. Men, women, and children from other countries—including Bolivia, Paraguay, Haiti, and China—are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in many sectors, including construction; the textile industry, particularly in Sao Paulo; and small businesses. NGOs and officials report some police officers ignore the exploitation of children in sex trafficking, patronize brothels, and rob and assault women in prostitution, impeding identification of sex trafficking victims. Government officials and former officials have been investigated and prosecuted for trabalho escravo.

U.S. Department of State

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