Slavery in Brazil

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently published a small article about the contemporary slavery happening in various regions of Brazil. “The Government of Brazil has put in place exemplary policies to combat contemporary forms of slavery in Brazil. However, some landowners, businesses and intermediaries such as the ‘gatos’ have found a way to avoid criminal prosecution by taking advantage of legal loopholes that delay justice and foster impunity,” said Ms. Gulnara Shahinian, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, modern day slavery is more common in Brazil than most people would imagine, especially as it is one of the most developed and promising countries of all those on the verge to move from “developing country” to “developed country”. It might (will) soon be the 5th largest economy in the world. Yes, Brazil has safety and corruption problems, but they have been minimized in the last years and its economy in tourism and agronomy (cattle and crops) is enormous and very promising. Now, how can it be possible that under those circumstances slavery is possible? How can it be, that Brazil has one of the most rigid labour / work force laws especially for this farm work in the world, yet this is the sector where (mostly men) are victims of forced labour? That those who defend the rights of victims have been threatened, harmed and killed?

In my opinion, and ultimately in the conclusion of the article, Brazil has a tremendous issue with law enforcement. Simply because a law has been established, everyday practice will not automatically change. As Ms. Gulnara Shahinian says in the article, Brazil needs to really show the people that they are serious about punishing this crime. The Brazilian government could do so by passing a proposed constitutional amendment which would allow the expropriation of land, where forced labour is used. Personally, I would like to add that afterwards they have to actually, really take some land away from someone before people will believe it. (I am not assuming that it’s the only way, but after seeing how little impact the zero tolerance law for drunk driving had until it was enforced seriously, I consider it the most promising option. Btw, people here still drive drunk. Very drunk at times.)

So lets all hope that the amendment is passed, rather sooner than later.

Thanks for reading! Krisenkind

You can find the article here (english version):

Or download the portuguese version here (word document):