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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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  • Ric

    Gotta define “poor”. In L.A. poor means you canÀ‚´t afford a new wall size TV for the Super Bowl because your credit cards are maxed out. In some parts of NE Brazil it means your kids spend all day sifting thru the chaff from the rice processing machines to get a few grains here and there, or sort thru mountains of garbage for anything they can sell.

  • jony

    Ch.c once an idiot…always an idiot
    ARTICLE-III
    Feeding the poor in richest Swiss region

    This is in Switzerlandˢ۪s most affluent region, based on per capita income, but still there are pockets of poverty.
    The people in the queue watch millionairesˢ۪ yachts bobbing in the nearby lake, as they wait for their numbers to be called.

    Itˢ۪s like a lottery. They never know what they will be taking home with them. This week, there are fresh vegetables, lemons, eggs, yoghurts, sugar, tea and chocolate. For a nominal fee of SFr1 ($0.80), they can fill up their paper shopping bags.

    Each of these people has been referred by social services À¢€“ they have the identity cards to prove it.

    The food is provided by the Zurich-based charity, Tischlein deck dich (Table Be Set). The name is based on a fairy tale by the Grimm brothers.

    Britta Kiefer, who runs the diner, Podium 41, told swissinfo: “We give them the amount of food they need to suit the size of their household.

    “For single mothers with one child, it helps a lot. But for larger families, itÀ¢€™s just a drop in the ocean.”

    The beneficiaries
    The outward appearance of the people standing in line in this central Swiss town provides no clues as to their desperate economic state. They are mostly well groomed and neatly dressed.

    According to the charity, Swiss Workersˢ۪ Aid, most poor people are ashamed of their financial situation and try to hide it.

    People are considered to be poor as soon as they earn less than 50 per cent of the average net salary for the country they live in. The charity estimates that 850,000 people live below the poverty line, despite having a range of social benefits at their disposal.

    The beneficiaries at Podium 41 vary from drug users and alcoholics to working people, who just cannot seem to make ends meet.

    Anj Iten, a former bookkeeper with a management school diploma, has been out of work for three years.

    “When I look for work in my field, all the adverts are targeted at 25-35 year-olds. I am 40 and a single mother. TheyÀ¢€™re not looking for people like me.”

    Swallow your pride

    She finds it very difficult to manage on welfare benefits alone, and says the food rations help her save SFr25-35 ($20.2-28.3) a week. “It takes some courage to come here, but you get used to it. ItÀ¢€™s so helpful that you really have to swallow your pride,” she told swissinfo.

    Suzi Rosenberger has three children, aged three, eight and 11, and works part time as a manicurist, but does not make enough to feed her family.

    “The food we receive here saves us four to five hundred francs per month,” she said.

    Montemurro Salvatore, who now works for Tischlein deck dich, has experienced his own riches to rags story. He used to own two restaurants, but the business collapsed, leaving him with nothing.

    He now helps with the food distributions. He believes that there are many more poor people in Zug and elsewhere who would benefit from food handouts.

    “In my opinion the food distributions are poorly advertised, and many people who could do with the help donÀ¢€™t dare to ask for it.”

    Food mountain

    About 250 million kilograms of edible food are destroyed in Switzerland every year. If this could be passed on instead to those living below the bread line, each of them would receive one kilo of food per day.

    Tischlein deck dich tries to save as much of the condemned food as possible for the people who need it most.

    Last year 84,000 bags of food, each weighing 5kg, were shared out among the poor.

    The goods come from large distributors and major supermarket chains. Non-perishable products are stored in a warehouse. The rest is dispersed on the same day.

    Three hundred volunteers hand out the goods at 23 distribution centres around the country. The warehouse staff and truck drivers are also volunteers.

    The charity, which is financed by donations from the public, from foundations and private companies, is on track to help more people in the near future.

    Up to five new distribution centres are being set up and the amount of food on offer will increase by 300 metric tons over the next two years.

    swissinfo, Julie Hunt in Zug

  • jony

    Ch.c once an idiot…always an idiot
    ARTICLE-II

    One in 11 Swiss lives below poverty line
    Brigitte Steimen says poverty has been a taboo subject for decades (Keystone)
    A growing number of Swiss do not earn enough money to pay their monthly bills, a new investigation into the state of poverty in Switzerland shows.
    The Swiss Labour Association (SAH), an independent charity with its roots in the trade unions, says one in every eleven Swiss is forced to live below the poverty line. The charity warns that the number is likely to rise still further in the future.

    The charity claims the number of working poor – employed people who live below the breadline – has risen to around 530,000 over the past twelve months.

    According to federal statistics published in March of last year, those worst affected by the threat of poverty are large families, single parents, workers with only primary education and the self-employed.

    A separate study carried out in Zurich last year also revealed that a third of the total population in Switzerland risks joining the ranks of the working poor.

    Invisible poverty
    Brigitte Steimen, director of the SAH, says the biggest obstacle to tackling poverty in Switzerland is its invisibility.

    À¢€œYou donÀ¢€™t really see poverty when you walk the streets and you donÀ¢€™t see many beggars, and since being poor is considered shameful, people hide and are very reluctant to ask the state for money,À¢€Â Steimen told swissinfo.

    À¢€œSwitzerland is not a paradise or some exotic country where there is no poverty,À¢€Â she added.

    Regina Aeppli, a Swiss parliamentarian who has campaigned for legislation to combat poverty, says Switzerlandˢ۪s international reputation as a wealthy country is at the same time both accurate and misleading.

    À¢€œSwitzerland is of course a very rich country, but the problem is that three per cent of the inhabitants have 90 per cent of the wealth, while the remaining 97 per cent have to share the rest,À¢€Â she said.

    À¢€œSo we have a layer of people who are not able to run their lives on their salaries and who are in need of help from the state,À¢€Â she added.

    Taboo subject
    Steimen says poverty has been a taboo subject in Switzerland for decades, and people have only recently become aware of the extent of the problem.

    À¢€œUntil about two years ago it was like a taboo, and nobody really talked about it, but people are now more conscious of this problem,À¢€Â explained Steimen. À¢€œIt has certainly been a challenge to get the message across.À¢€Â

    The SAH says 18 per cent of Swiss women – many of whom are single mothers looking after two or more children – currently live beneath the poverty line, earning a monthly salary of less than SFr3,000 ($1,800).

    À¢€œWomen are proportionally more in danger of falling into the poverty trap, so we really want to focus on this issue,À¢€Â added Steimen.

    À¢€œWe put millions and millions of Swiss francs into supporting agriculture, for instance,À¢€Â said Steimen, À¢€œbut we donÀ¢€™t invest enough money in education, and I think there definitely needs to be a change.À¢€Â

    Steimen admits it is unlikely poverty will ever be fully eradicated, but she is confident that the vicious cycle of low income and debt can be kept under control.

    À¢€œI think the recent international focus on poverty has really put the issue on the domestic political agenda, and I am optimistic that things will hopefully change for the better in the future.À¢€Â

  • jony

    Ch.c once an idiot…always an idiot
    Chc…once an idiot always an idiot!!!
    Here is an article you should be very familiar with…it’s about your country Switzerland the one you so proudly uses it as the measuring stick to the rest of the inferior world!!!
    I would ask for the fellow commentators to take five minutes of their time to read the 3 articles belowÀ¢€¦and tell me why doesnÀ¢€™t Mr.Ch.c puts his incredibly superior mind capable of, single handedly, recognizing and solving all the Brazilian economic problemsÀ¢€¦ to solve his own country disastrous path of self destruction!!!???
    As the article states:
    À¢€œSwitzerland is of course a very rich country, but the problem is that three per cent of the inhabitants have 90 per cent of the wealth, while the remaining 97 per cent have to share the restÀ¢€Â.
    How can a country with only 7 million people, have 850,000 people living below the poverty line??? That to me, tantamount to a third world economy!!! But its ok because they all have nice blond hair and sparkling baby blue eyes and they starve in style??? Preposterous!!!
    And this a*****e is here every night for the past 4 years teaching Brazilians how to succeed and how to think??? Laughable but indefensible!!!
    Get a gun Ch.cÀ¢€¦ go for a long walk and do what you need to doÀ¢€¦

    ARTICLE-I

    Poverty alarm sounds in Swiss cities

    One in ten Swiss children is living below the poverty line (Keystone Archive)
    Related story
    À‚·Poor education blamed for poverty gap
    One in ten children in Swiss towns and cities is living below the poverty line, according to a report published on Tuesday.
    The study of nine urban areas in northern Switzerland showed an À¢€œalarmingÀ¢€Â ten per cent rise in welfare cases in 2003.
    The report, compiled by Urban Initiative, noted that welfare cases rose by 15 per cent in Zurich and Basel.
    The organisation, which represents 50 Swiss towns and cities, called for an end to cutbacks, saying the time had come À¢€œto invest rather than economiseÀ¢€Â.
    It said more staff were needed to help people come off social security and rejoin the workforce.

    Child poverty

    The biggest concern is the number of children classed as living in poverty. Statistically, 87 of every 1,000 children in Switzerland fall into this category.

    In Basel last year, 12.5 per cent of children and young people under 18 were on welfare À¢€“ almost three times the average for adults.

    À¢€œThe highest social welfare assistance ratios involved children and young people under 18,À¢€Â revealed Michael Hohn, director of social affairs for the city of Bern.

    The report called on businesses to step up training and recruitment initiatives, adding that more than half of all new cases were related to unemployment.

    Hohn said children in cash-strapped families had limited access to education and training schemes, and faced a greater prospect of poverty in adulthood.

  • ch.c.

    A joke the Brailian laws !
    Yessss they exist…but are not applied. Therefore what are they good for ?
    As Brazil recognizes : the government has yet to prosecute these cases (2006)
    What about the cases in 2005 and earlier ???
    Also…..YET to be prosecuted ?

    Quite funny that last year, it was found out that one your Senator was using slaves
    in his farms.
    Guess what happened ! Welll…wellll…..he is still a Senator !!!

    Finally it looks like that your Authorities are not very smart !
    In an article someone said it was difficult to find where the slaves are and work !

    But everyone knoww where they are…when specific charcoal companies are named
    in various reports.
    Even far easier than that : your authorities need “only” surf on the Net and write in Yahoo or Google : slaves Brazil !
    Just by doing that they would find many NGO’s sites…….WITH MAPS OF WHERE THE SLAVES ARE !!!!!!

    Yessss a real tragedy that Brazil is compared to many THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES !!!!

    But after all….this is exactly what Brazil is, a Tropical Mud !

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