The government maintained protection efforts. In 2020, the government reported identifying and providing protection services to 494 potential trafficking victims. The government provided partial victim identification data from a subset of federal agency records; in past years, the government also reported partial victim identification statistics but collected this data from a subset of state-level protection agencies. Several government agencies at various levels collected data on victim identification and assistance; for example, in 2020, the Ministry of Health reported its officials identified 61 adult and 36 child trafficking victims, more than half of whom were Afro-Brazilian or mixed race. However, the lack of a centralized database and inconsistent reporting made year-to-year comparisons difficult. Identification efforts varied greatly from state to state; select rural states, such as the state of Paraná, identified a large number of the reported victims, while more populous states, such as Rio de Janeiro, identified relatively few. In 2020, labor inspection authorities conducted inspections at 266 companies and identified 942 victims of labor exploitation; however, the government did not specify how many of these victims experienced forced or slave labor, as opposed to other forms of exploitation. The government did not report the total number of cases of forced labor as defined under international law. In comparison, authorities inspected 280 companies and identified 1,130 victims of labor exploitation in 2019. Labor inspectors at the federal level reportedly shared with victims of slave labor information on basic resources available to them. The government did not report how many slave labor victims received such information in 2020. However, all 942 identified victims had access to three months of unemployment insurance, compared with the 713 possible victims that received unemployment insurance in 2019. The government did not report what other services slave labor victims received. According to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MOJPS), authorities from all federal, state, and local governments continued to use victim identification guidance from 2013, which predated the 2016 anti-trafficking law, to aid victim identification and assistance. However, government officials did not receive training on the use of such guidance, and there was no indication that authorities in most states proactively or consistently identified victims of sex trafficking, child sex tourism, or forced labor, especially forced criminality. Officials from the labor inspector’s office identified victims of slave labor while conducting impromptu inspections into businesses or employers suspected of using slave labor. According to some government officials, judges did not consistently identify individuals as trafficking victims who had initially consented to perform a certain job or service in which they were later coerced or forced to provide labor or services against their will. In 2020, the government produced new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for identifying and providing assistance to victims of slave labor; the new guidance did not include additional funding for victim assistance and the government did not report trainings related to the new SOPs. The MOJPS maintained eight “advanced posts” at locations, such as airports and bus stations, where authorities could screen for trafficking indicators, a decrease from nine advanced posts in 2020 and 12 in 2019.
Law 13.344 mandated the government provide victims with temporary shelter; legal, social, and health assistance; and protection against re-victimization; however, implementation of the law was inconsistent across states. Authorities continued to operate 16 state-level and one municipal-level anti-trafficking offices (NETPs). NETPs operated interagency networks that could serve as the first point of contact for victims who had been identified by any means, including NGOs; however, most NETPs did not provide services to victims directly and were only open during the day. Most agencies with equities participated in the network, and NETPs could refer victims of adult sex trafficking to Specialized Social Service Centers (CREAS) serving vulnerable populations, victims of forced labor to the Secretariat of Labor Inspections (SIT), and child victims of trafficking to guardianship councils. In 2020, an unknown number of NETPs assisted 156 potential victims, compared with 10 NETPS assisting 129 possible victims in 2019. Adult victims referred to CREAS could receive assistance from non-specialized psychologists and social workers; the government reported all 494 potential trafficking victims received services from CREAS but did not disclose the forms of assistance provided. A government official indicated that the NETPs were not distributed in a balanced way across the country. In wealthier states, such as Sao Paulo, the NETP had effective assistance and coordination teams comprised of police officers, prosecutors, labor inspectors, labor prosecutors, and mental health professionals. In contrast, the government did not adequately fund or equip other NETPs to refer and assist victims. Many states did not have NETPs, including border states where trafficking was prevalent. Throughout 2020, the government maintained a partnership with a Brazilian LGBTQI+ organization to increase the protection of transgender trafficking victims, but it did not report any active projects involving the group.
Some NETPs and CREAS could provide limited short-term shelter; the federal government did not fund specialized or long-term shelters for trafficking victims. Some states placed victims in shelters for migrants, the homeless, or victims of domestic violence. The state of Sao Paulo had two main shelters where trafficking victims could receive assistance—one was a state government-funded shelter where female victims and their children could receive health benefits, education, food, and housing for three to six months; the other was an NGO-operated shelter that provided temporary assistance for refugees and trafficking victims. When space in these shelters was unavailable, Sao Paulo officials housed trafficking victims in other non-specialized shelters and, occasionally, hotels. States did not have specialized shelters for child sex trafficking victims, and guardianship councils often lacked the expertise and resources to adequately identify, refer, and support child victims. There were no specialized shelters for male victims of trafficking. The government had a network of non-specialized government and civil society shelters serving vulnerable populations, such as individuals experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic violence, and the elderly. Of these shelters, the government reported more than 3,700 could receive trafficking victims, although far fewer served trafficking victims in practice. In 2019, the most recent year for which data was available, 32 of these shelters reported providing services to at least one trafficking victims. The government did not report how many trafficking victims these shelters assisted during the reporting period. Despite being the second most populous city in the country, Rio de Janeiro did not have any specialized shelters for victims of sex trafficking. Officials from the MPT used assets forfeited from traffickers to provide care to victims of slave labor. To increase and expedite access to care for forced labor victims, state governments could participate in the Integrated Action Program through MPT, which coordinated vocational training, sought restitution from traffickers, and arranged job placements. Authorities did not report providing training to any guardianship council social workers on the worst forms of child labor, including trafficking, in 2020, compared with training 242 social workers in 2019.
Authorities penalized victims for unlawful acts traffickers forced them to commit. Due to inadequate application of formal identification and screening procedures, officials sometimes arrested foreign women for drug trafficking crimes committed under coercion and as a result of their trafficking situation. The government had measures to encourage victims to testify in the case against their traffickers, including allowing remote live video testimony. However, authorities have never reported using these measures for trafficking cases. Observers continued to express concern about the under-reporting of trafficking crimes, attributing it in part to victims’ lack of awareness of protection services and fear that filing complaints would lead to further exploitation, deportation, or other harm. The law entitled foreign trafficking victims to a residence permit; the government updated the permit application process to clarify required steps in March 2020. The government reported issuing 12 such residence permits in 2020 but did not report how many of these permits it issued to trafficking victims. The government could assist victims of trafficking with repatriation, but authorities have not reported assisting any victims since 2017.