Brazil boosts fight against trafficking in persons with launch of new data and local committees of Blue Heart campaign

Isaac Amorim
Left to right: Franzini; Abrão; Cardozo; Aurélio Rios, Federal Attorney of the Presidency; and Claire Healy, of ICMPD

Brasília, 22 October 2013 - An unprecedented assessment report produced by the National Secretariat of Justice of Brazil's Ministry of Justice (SNJ/MJ), in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), revealed for the first time details about human trafficking in the 11 border states of Brazil.

The Assessment of Trafficking in Persons in the Border Regions of Brazil shows that at least 475 people were identified as victims of trafficking in persons between 2005 and 2011. Most of them were women between the ages of 18 and 29 years and adolescent children.

The Minister of Justice Eduardo Cardozo participated in the event that launched the assessment report last Friday: "Trafficking in persons is an invisible crime, victims are too embarrassed to report it and so are their families. Because it is very difficult to detect, actions to combat it need to be sophisticated. The understanding of a phenomenon such as trafficking in persons requires data collection, information gathering and research. This assessment will allow reflection and analysis to improve the prevention and repression of this crime, which unfortunately still exists in the 21st century", said Cardozo.

To the Representative of the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Brazil, Rafael Franzini, the assessment provides data and information that are of fundamental importance for the development, planning and evaluation of sustainable public policies and strategies for countering trafficking in persons in Brazilian borders.

"This report is concrete proof that the actions taken by the Brazilian government to get more information of a higher quality are on the right track: no public policy of any kind will be sustainable without data to support it", said Franzini. "Therefore, UNODC publishes and contributes to the publication of reports about drugs, homicides, trafficking in persons, that is, about all the components we need to know in order to combat transnational organized crime."

During the launch of the assessment report, the National Secretary of Justice, Paulo Abrão, recalled the main actions taken by the SNJ in 2013 against trafficking in persons, including the first national survey that consolidated data about the crime in Brazil, produced in partnership with UNODC. In addition, he also highlighted the launch of the Brazilian version of the Blue Heart campaign in May, which was attended by the UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. Abrão also noted that the campaign is getting a boost this week with the setting up of local committees, starting with the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro sets up first local committee of campaign against trafficking in persons

Rio de Janeiro set up yesterday the first local committee of the Blue Heart campaign in Brazil. The launch was held at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-RJ) and was attended by the Minister of Justice and the National Secretary of Justice, as well as the screenwriter Glória Perez, who was named Honorary President of the committee.

During the event, Abrão said that the campaign is implementing one of the key commitments of the II National Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons: "The most important thing is always to prevent the crime. The campaign will promote prevention, so that people become aware of trafficking in persons and report it, enabling the State to articulate their actions to repress the crime and protect victims".

Data provides an overview of trafficking in persons at Brazilian borders

The assessment report revealed a high incidence of trafficking in persons for forced labor in the following states: Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Pará, Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation was identified in the states of Amapá, Pará, Roraima, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Santa Catarina and Rondônia are the two states where cases were identified in much lower numbers than elsewhere.

New forms of exploitation that had not been mentioned before in the literature about trafficking in persons in Brazil were identified, such as the exploitation of begging and the domestic servitude of children and adolescents - "adopted" girls, people used as "mules" to transport illegal narcotics and adolescent boys trafficked for exploitation in football clubs.

The profile of trafficked people is of men and women, transvestites and transgender people, children (0 to 12 years old) and adolescents (13 to 18 years old), in vulnerable conditions, whether because of socioeconomic conditions, or because of family conflicts, or because of violence suffered within their family of origin. The assessment revealed a lack of knowledge about trafficking of indigenous people living in remote areas, who move from one state to another and from one country to another on a regular basis, sometimes because it is part of the culture of certain groups.

Men, women and transgender women are recruited, groomed and promised a better life. Payment is demanded for transportation, food and lodging, and transformed into debts to be paid with suffering, violence, exploitation, and fear of reprisals in case they try to escape or report the abuse. A disturbing revelation of the survey is that the issue of trafficking in persons is not yet on the local agendas as a priority.

Although it is not the main topic of the assessment, the report also provides information on internal migration in Brazil and international migration to Brazil. The research is the result of a cooperation agreement signed between the SNJ and the National Secretariat of Public Security (Senasp). It is also part of the actions developed under the National Strategy for Public Security at the Borders (Enafron).

Related Information:

Facebook page of the Blue Heart campaign in Rio (in portuguese)

Brazilian website of the Blue Heart campaign (in portuguese)

Assessment of Trafficking in Persons in the Border Regions of Brazil (in portuguese)

Brazilian government launches UNODC Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking

UNODC and the Ministry of Justice gather data on human trafficking in Brazil and launch new research methodology


All stories