Can New Anti-Human Trafficking Body in Brazil Really Have Impact?

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A national body to combat human trafficking has been set up in Brazil as part of a new strategy aimed at tackling the crime; but without much needed changes in the law, slave labor in the country will continue to flourish.

The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (Conatrap) will be formed of 26 members — 12 from the federal government, 12 from civil society and two regional government representatives, said a statement on the Ministry of Justice’s website. They will hold office for two years.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking

Conatrap will be tasked with proposing new anti-trafficking initiatives, carrying out studies and monitoring the implementation of national anti-trafficking plans, reported Diario de Pernambuco.

InSight Crime Analysis

Conatrap is the latest initiative in the Brazilian government’s three year national plan against human trafficking which came into force early last year. In a country where as many as 200,000 people are estimated to be trapped in slavery, it is good news that the government is acknowledging that trafficking is a severe national problem, and some significant progress has been made. Last year, the first ever major study of trafficking across Brazil was carried out, and the numbers of reports of human trafficking rose a dramatic 1,500 percent. The government has also invested millions in creating new posts across the country to provide victims services.

However no amount of increased awareness, improved services or national committees are going to truly make a dent in this entrenched practice until the law creates serious deterrents for those engaging in it. The real issue is that extremely powerful interests widely use exploitative labor and have so far successfully prevented a change in the law that would really hit them hard — unsurprising in a country where corruption infiltrates the political and judicial system at every level.  The passage of a constitutional amendment that would allow for slaveholders’ property to be confiscated has been held up for more than ten years. If the newly-formed Conatrap really wants to make an impact, lobbying for this amendment to finally come into law would be an excellent start.

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