Brazil has announced a three-year plan to combat human trafficking, including tougher border controls and a revision of the penal code, in a country where forced labor is believed to affect tens of thousands of people.
The Brazilian government plans to invest almost $3 million into creating ten new control posts in border towns, which will aim to provide victims’ services, and the training of 400 staff. The penal code will also be reformed to criminalize the illegal adoption of children, organ extraction, and forced labor, as news agency AFP reports.
"Brazil does not want to see its people trafficked, exploited, nor does it want to be a place where Latin American or African immigrants are exploited," said Human Rights Secretary Maria de Rosario.
InSight Crime Analysis
One question is whether by committing $3 million to new border checks, Brazil is investing enough resources to make a dent in the problem. The country sees a significant number of people trafficked abroad: a report released last year by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice said nearly 500 Brazilian victims of human trafficking were identified as leaving the country between 2005 and 2011, with more than 70 per cent of those cases being sexual exploitation. Most of the sexual exploitation cases were found in Suriname, which is used as a transit country for trafficking victims to the Netherlands.
It is also worth questioning whether the reforms to the penal code will result in a higher number of successful prosecutions related to the crime. As noted by the US State Department, Brazilian laws already prohibit most forms of human trafficking -- however, during 2011 there were no prosecutions of internal sex trafficking, and investigations into 67 reports of transnational sex trafficking resulted in just two convictions.
Meanwhile, just seven convictions were secured related to slave labor cases. Slave labor is a particular problem in Brazil, estimated to affect up to 40,000 people, according to non-governmental organization (NGO) Catholic Relief Services. While the new national anti-human trafficking plan is also intended to crack down on slave labor recruitment, again, one of the most significant challenges will be ensuring that slave labor cases actually end with convictions in court. As InSight Crime has pointed out, slave labor in Brazil is linked to powerful financial interests, and thus far the judicial system has not proved to be an effective tool in combating the problem.