Brazil Efforts to End Slavery Not Enough, Says the US

The US State Department in its annual Trafficking in Person report concludes that many countries have made progress in implementing anti-trafficking and anti-slavery goals, but Brazil is not one of them.

According to the State Department, Brazil has made minimal improvements in addressing its trafficking in persons problem since the release of the 2006 Report.

Concrete progress has yet to be realized however, in passage of anti-trafficking legislation and convicting and punishing traffickers. During the last six months, the government has taken some important steps to improve its law enforcement capacity to combat trafficking.

In October 2006, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva issued an executive order establishing a comprehensive national anti-TIP Policy. Since March 2006, high-level government officials have spoken out condemning trafficking and the use of forced labor.

Also in October 2006, the government inaugurated a national trafficking data base to document and analyze arrest, prosecution, and conviction statistics more effectively. Since March 2006, the GOB expanded and improved upon the training of federal law enforcement and judicial officials on modifications to existing TIP statues and how to identify, investigate, and prosecute TIP cases more effectively. This training led to the first recorded arrest in Brazil for internal trafficking in November 2006.

Brazilian law enforcement has continued to investigate and prosecute a modest number of commercial or sexual exploitation cases. During 2006 the government investigated 173 cases of forced labor using teams of federal labor inspectors, police, and prosecutors. This resulted in some victims being rescued from their exploiters; however, the government has yet to prosecute these cases.

In November 2006, a detailed investigative news report highlighted the problem of forced labor in the charcoal production industry and linked it to Brazil's pig iron production, 95% of which is exported to the United States for steel production.

The Ministry of Labor's special anti-slavery unit continued to rescue victims of forced labor in the Amazon charcoal production camps, cattle raising, and other areas of agricultural production, but again, none of these rescues have resulted yet in criminal prosecutions of the traffickers who exploit these workers.

The government took steps to remedy this by obtaining a December 1st, 2006 Supreme Court ruling that all slave/forced labor cases fall under the jurisdiction of, and must be turned over to, the federal court system. This ruling is expected to lead to successful criminal prosecutions in the federal court system.

In the absence of adequate criminal sanctions against forced labor, the government utilized alternative civil remedies, including the use of increasingly stiffer fines and a program backed by federal regulation to get private lenders to deny them credit.

Brazil is on the State Department's special watch list. That list includes countries deemed to warrant special scrutiny of their anti-trafficking efforts, as required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2003.

On the list are countries that have significant human-trafficking problems, have not increased efforts over the last year to stop trafficking, or whose efforts were judged as declining in the most recent State Department report. The interim assessment reviews progress made by these countries between May and November 2006.

Among the 39 countries in the interim assessment, Algeria was reported as having not made any progress, while Djibouti, Mauritania, Togo, Malaysia, Egypt, Libya, Qatar, Argentina, Brazil and Peru were reported to have made "modest," "limited," "inadequate" or "minimal" improvements in combating trafficking in persons.

Improved performance was reported for Cambodia, China, Israel, Belize and Bolivia.

Trafficking and Slavery

Legally mandated to be compiled annually, the June 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report reviewed anti-trafficking efforts in 149 countries and concluded that about 800,000 persons were coerced into human-trafficking schemes over the last year.

The report placed nations in one of four categories based on their efforts to control human trafficking, prosecute those involved and support and assist victims of these crimes. Countries doing the best job are in Tier 1. Tier 2 comprises countries that are demonstrating commitment to address their problems but have not yet achieved international standards.

The Tier 2 "Watch List" includes countries that show signs of digressing to Tier 3, which is the lowest level. Governments that are not complying with minimum anti-trafficking standards and are not making significant efforts to do so receive a Tier 3 ranking.

The 39 countries on the special watch list are countries that either had moved to a higher tier in the 2006 report, were ranked on Tier 2 in the 2006 report but had failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking from the previous year, were placed on Tier 2 because of commitments to carry out additional future actions over the coming year, or had a significant or significantly increased number of trafficking victims.

The interim assessment gauges anti-trafficking progresses, particularly of countries that might be in danger of becoming Tier 3 nations in the June 2007 report. The assessment provides guidance on how to avoid this ranking.

Improvement

The assessment said many countries continue to make improvements, even the Tier 1 nations. In Malawi, the government continued to prosecute traffickers and conducted training for police officers to learn how to help prevent and stop trafficking. New legislation in Switzerland is helping provide more assistance to trafficking victims. In Singapore, the government implemented new measures aimed at addressing abuses of foreign domestic workers.

However, the assessment said, some countries' efforts to fight trafficking have been inadequate. Even though the government of Djibouti has taken a few steps, like shutting down bars where child prostitution may have occurred, more work is needed.

In Malaysia, a 2004 commitment to opening a shelter for trafficking victims remains unfulfilled. Peru also has made some progress, but has shown little effort to implement the recommendations in the 2006 State Department report.

Argentina

The Government of Argentina has made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. A number of key planned government initiatives have yet to be implemented, though the government increased its trafficking prosecutions and co-sponsored capacity building seminars with NGOs and law enforcement officials.

Argentina's parliament moved anti-trafficking legislation forward but it did not pass the legislation. The government showed no progress in prosecuting of trafficking-related complicity by government officials. More government efforts are needed to expand law enforcement training on victim identification and assistance.

On December 6, the Senate unanimously approved an anti-trafficking bill to criminalize and punish trafficking on the federal level. In addition, a similar bill was submitted in the Lower House in early October 2006; the two chambers have yet to work to reconcile the two bills. Government passage and enactment of trafficking legislation is not expected before February 2007.

Reportedly, the government initiated 20 international trafficking prosecutions at the provincial and federal levels. One prosecution involving the trafficking and torture of a victim resulted in three convictions.

Another attempted prosecution involving 50 Paraguayan victims of sexual exploitation failed, however, as none of the victims were willing to cooperate with law enforcement. IOM continued to conduct a good portion of the law enforcement training on trafficking, but the Office of Assistance to Victims of Crime (OFAVI), through an agreement with the Council of Internal Security, made anti-trafficking education a regular part of training for law enforcement officials.

OFAVI continued its anti-trafficking training for judicial officials. There are few specific anti-trafficking NGOs in Argentina but the government co-sponsored some capacity-building seminars with NGOs and has made an effort to raise general public awareness about trafficking in Argentina through print and broadcast media.

The government has yet to prosecute any public officials for their involvement in trafficking, partially due to delays in judicial proceedings.

Bolivia

The Government of Bolivia has shown clear progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. The government improved its protection of trafficking victims by establishing a permanent and temporary shelter. It also took steps to raise public awareness about trafficking and it increased its trafficking enforcement efforts.

The government increased the number of trafficking investigations conducted in major urban trafficking destinations such as La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba.

In an unprecedented case in late September 2006, the regional Attorney's office of Cochabamba prosecuted a trafficker for exploiting an 11-year old victim. The Prefecture of the Department of La Paz in June 2006 opened a shelter for trafficking victims, and it now houses 36 victims.

Over the last six months, the government made progress in raising public awareness of the dangers of trafficking by enacting a decree requiring international airports to air a TV segment on trafficking. In addition, the Municipality of La Paz in July 2006 co-sponsored a workshop for local government and NGOs to develop common procedures for handling trafficking cases.

Finally, in August and September 2006, a governmental trafficking working group held two seminars to draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation for Bolivia.

Ecuador

Since its upgrading to Tier 2 in the 2006 Report, the Government of Ecuador has made additional progress in its efforts to combat human trafficking. The government provided additional staff, training, and resources in order to ensure traffickers face prompt prosecutions and continued to work with civil society to train officials, raise public awareness, and improve protection for victims.

Ecuador also robustly implemented its 2005 anti-trafficking legislation by conducting new investigations and prosecutions under the statute. The President established a national action plan and government agencies completed an operational plan to implement the national plan.

Ecuador increased the number of law enforcement officials and prosecutors devoted to combating human trafficking. In May 2006, the child welfare police created an eight-person trafficking intelligence unit that works with police, Interpol, and prosecutors.

In September 2006, a specialized 14-person Special Sexual Crimes Police Unit was established to investigate trafficking in person crimes. The government in August 2006 also created and trained a 36-member specialized police unit, spread over seven major cities, dedicated to victim and witness protection. Seventy-five traffickers have been arrested since March 2006 and the government successfully prosecuted and sentenced its first trafficker in October.

Over the last six months, the Ecuadorian government continued to promote training for government officials, to focus efforts on public awareness, and to increase the number of victims assisted and protected. Prosecutors and judges received training to better prepare and adjudicate trafficking cases.

The government conducted a two-day media training session on trafficking for TV, radio, and print journalists. Authorities also in November 2006 launched a $1 million, year-long public awareness campaign and a $60,000 anti-sex tourism awareness campaign. Since the beginning of 2006, the Victim and Witness Protection program has assisted 43 trafficking victims.

Mexico

The Government of Mexico has shown modest progress in addressing trafficking in persons issues since the release of the 2006 Report. Greater government resources were dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts, resulting in a greater number of law enforcement investigations.

Two states passed anti-trafficking legislation. A much-needed comprehensive federal law, which the senate has passed, has yet to be approved by the lower chamber of congress and enacted.

The year-old anti-trafficking unit in the Federal Police produced a greater number of trafficking investigations. Since the beginning of 2006, the Police have pursued ten anti-trafficking cases, arresting a number of suspected traffickers and rescuing dozens of presumed victims of both trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and victims of labor trafficking.

While some of the alleged traffickers and victims were found to be unconnected to trafficking, aggressive pursuit of traffickers related to these cases is ongoing.

The Federal Police showed an improved effort to collect and record statistics on trafficking cases. Mexican police cooperated in providing valuable information in support of three anti-trafficking investigations in the United States.

Draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, which Mexico's Senate passed in early 2006, progressed in the lower chamber of congress but has not yet been passed. The states of Michoacan and Chihuahua passed anti-trafficking legislation in June and November, respectively.

The government did not provide trafficking victims with shelter in dedicated centers during the reporting period. Mexico's immigration agency, however, in September 2006 instituted a policy of granting temporary visas to foreign victims of trafficking who cooperate with law enforcement officials in the prosecution of their trafficker. Immigration officials still lack formal procedures for the interviewing and referring of trafficking victims to NGO service providers.

There were no reported cases of arrests, investigations, or prosecutions of Mexican law enforcement officials complicit in trafficking, despite widespread reporting of such official involvement in human trafficking.

Peru

The Government of Peru made limited progress in its efforts to combat trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. However, key deficiencies in the government's anti-trafficking response have yet to be addressed.

The government produced a draft of a legal framework for future anti-trafficking actions in coordination with the International Organization for Migration, but little concrete progress has been made to address key recommendations in the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The government recently took steps to expedite passage of a draft comprehensive anti-trafficking bill, and in late October 2006, it resubmitted the legislation to Congress. The government, however, has not increased its trafficking prosecutions and convictions; seven prosecutions initiated in 2005 have not yet concluded. Furthermore, the government did not provide adequate anti-trafficking resources for law enforcement.

The Public Ministry provided political support and substantial in-kind support including travel expenses and staff time for a USG-funded Peruvian NGO to conduct a post-graduate certificate program on TIP for 1,389 prosecutors, police, health workers, educators, and local government officials in 13 cities.

The Public Ministry began building a computerized case tracking system to allow prosecutors to monitor cases. A permanent interagency group chaired by the Ministry of Interior, which includes the police and immigration, has been designated by law to monitor the enforcement of TIP laws and the progress of TIP cases through the judicial system as well as to gather statistics on trafficking. On March 13, the Ministry of Interior established a nationwide hotline for reporting TIP crimes.

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