U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Brazil

Brazil (Tier 2)

Brazil is a source country primarily for women and children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and for men trafficked internally for the purpose of forced labor. NGOs estimate that 500,000 children are in prostitution in Brazil. Brazilian women and girls are also trafficked for sexual exploitation to destinations in South America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, Japan, the United States, and the Middle East. To a lesser extent, Brazil is a destination country for some men and women who migrate voluntarily from Bolivia, Peru, and China, but are subjected to conditions of forced labor in factories in major cities in Brazil. Child sex tourism is a serious problem within the country, particularly in the resort areas and coastal cities of Brazil's northeast. An estimated 25,000 Brazilian victims, mostly men, are trafficked within the country for forced agricultural labor, mostly to areas of the Amazon and the central state of Mato Grosso.

The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Over the last year, the government increased efforts to punish internal and transnational sex trafficking and took several measures to address forced labor, though prosecutions for forced labor remained lacking. In October 2006, President Lula directed the creation of a national plan of action against trafficking for all forms of exploitation, the coordination of governmental anti-trafficking efforts through the Secretariat of Justice, and the dedication of funding for the government's multi-sectoral anti-trafficking efforts. Prosecutions and convictions of trafficking offenders appeared to increase, and the Supreme Court strengthened the hand of the federal government in punishing slave labor through a November 2006 ruling. The government should increase prosecutions and convictions of traffickers, and institute more effective criminal penalties for forced labor trafficking.


The Government of Brazil made clear progress through law enforcement efforts against transnational and internal sex trafficking, though progress in efforts to punish acts of forced labor was less evident during the reporting period. Brazil does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, though transnational and internal trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is criminalized under Section 231 of its penal code, which prescribes penalties of 6 to 10 years' imprisonment, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for rape. Brazil's laws do not criminalize all aspects of trafficking for labor exploitation, though forced labor is criminalized under statutes against slavery that prescribe penalties of one to three years' imprisonment, penalties that are not sufficiently stringent.

Brazil lacks a centralized collection and reporting system for anti-trafficking law enforcement data; therefore, no comprehensive data on trafficking investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences were available for the reporting period. Limited data, however, collected from several states showed an increase in anti-trafficking efforts. A trafficking prosecution in the state of Rio Grande do Norte in 2006 resulted in the conviction of 14 traffickers, an increase over the one conviction reported for the country in 2005. The police reportedly initiated at least 35 trafficking investigations in 2006. Also during the year, federal police launched six operations to curb international trafficking, which resulted in the arrest of 38 people for international trafficking in persons. After receiving anti-trafficking training earlier in the year, federal highway patrol officers in November 2006 arrested a woman in the state of Sao Paulo for internal sex trafficking, marking the first recorded arrest for internal trafficking since it became a federal offense.

The Ministry of Labor's Special Mobile Enforcement Groups continued aggressive efforts to curb slave labor in the remote Amazon, conducting 106 operations on 206 suspected sites of slave labor in 2006. Although there were no known convictions of slave labor offenders, the number of civil actions against practitioners of slave labor rose in 2006. Moreover, in December 2006, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that crimes related to the use of forced labor fell under federal jurisdiction and that all forced labor cases must henceforth be prosecuted in the federal court system, settling an issue of jurisdiction that had previously hampered prosecutions and shielding these cases from pressure in state and local courts. This new ruling has not yet been tested, however. In March 2007, President Lula vetoed a bill, passed by Brazil's parliament, which would have reduced the power of the Ministry of Labor inspectors to determine culpability at worksites and impose fines where slave labor has been found.

There were scattered reports of law enforcement officials' involvement in or facilitation of trafficking in persons, though there were no reports of investigations or prosecutions of official complicity. In a high profile case of slave labor, involving the 2005 conviction of Federal Senator Joao Ribeiro for forcing 38 workers to live in slave-like conditions, the $341,000 fine imposed by the court in February 2005 was reduced by an appellate court in October 2006 to $35,500.

In 2006, Brazil issued a new regulation that requires state financial institutions to bar financial services to entities on the Ministry of Labor's "dirty list," a public listing of persons and companies that have been documented by the government as exploiters of forced labor. The Ministry of Labor in August 2006 updated the "dirty list," which contains 178 names of companies and individuals, including Senator Joao Ribeiro. Slave labor, which is used in the production of charcoal in primitive Amazon camps, was the focus of a late 2006 international news report, which alleged that this slavery is linked to the production of Brazilian pig iron, a majority of which is exported to the United States. Indeed, several of the pig iron companies mentioned are already on the Ministry of Labor's "dirty list" for documented slave labor practices.

Child Sex Tourism

Although comprehensive data is not available, limited reporting indicates that police in various tourist centers conducted a number of investigations into the sexual exploitation of Brazilian children by foreign pedophiles, who largely come from Europe and North America. Sex tourism was prevalent in 398 of 1,514 tourist destinations along the northeast coast of Brazil, according to a study by the University of Brasilia. The government in 2006 released a "code of conduct to combat sex tourism and sexual exploitation," and the local governments of the states of Pernambuco, Espirito Santo, Amazonas, Parana, and the Federal District enacted laws requiring businesses to display public warnings of the criminal punishments for sexually exploiting children. Rio de Janeiro and Bahia had previously enacted similar legislation.


The Government of Brazil made improved efforts to protect victims of sex trafficking during the reporting period. Several government programs assisted victims of trafficking, although efforts often were inconsistent and under-funded. Government officials encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, although foreign victims are not offered legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Brazil's federal government funded the "Sentinela" shelter network throughout the country, which expanded from 400 to 1,104 shelters in 2006. The Brazilian Ministry of Justice and the UNODC continued to fund victim assistance centers in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero, Goias, and Ceara states in partnership with the respective state governments. The Ministry of Social Development and the Fight against Hunger provided emergency care for children and adolescent victims of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. During surprise inspections of labor sites in remote areas of the Amazon, the Ministry of Labor's Special Mobile Enforcement Groups rescued a total of 3,390 victims of forced labor in 2006; victims were provided with immediate medical care, counseling, and limited compensation. Identified victims are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked.


The government made greater efforts to prevent trafficking throughout the reporting period. At the direction of President Lula, the Ministry of Justice's Secretariat was tasked in October 2006 with forming a national committee on trafficking represented by 14 ministries and producing by the end of August 2007 a comprehensive national plan of action against trafficking, including budgeted allocations for funding of anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and victim protection. The National Secretariat for Justice, which coordinates the government's anti-trafficking efforts, continued to lead a governmental public-awareness campaign to deter international traffickers and increase awareness among potential victim populations. In conjunction with the UNODC, the Secretariat conducted a campaign which included radio ads and large posters stating "first they take your passport, then your freedom" in airports around the country. The second phase of the campaign, which included the creation of a separate database and police and prosecutor training, began in late 2006.


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