Brazil pledges to feed UNODC Case Law Database on human trafficking

15 May 2012 - Exactly one year ago, a joint action of the Brazilian Special Group for Suppression of Narcotics (Genarc), the Police Delegation for Determination of Infractions (Depai) and the Delegation for Protection of Children and Adolescents (DPCA) resulted in the arrest of Josiel Paulista Vieira, a man known as Érica Cafetina (Madam Érica). Vieira is suspected of being part of a network for trafficking travesties from Pará and Maranhão, in the Northern region of Brazil, to Anápolis, in the Midwest region of the country. In November 2011, one of the youngsters, supposed victim of the network, reported he had been lured with the promise of reshaping his body through the application of silicone and megahair (a procedure to prolong the hair).

Cases like this occur with growing frequency in Brazil and worldwide. UNODC estimates that human trafficking generates USD 32 billion annual profits, exploiting 2.4 million victims at any given time. In Latin America, this number is estimated in 700,000.

Brazil is a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking victims. The most affected states by international human trafficking include Goias, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Human trafficking  within country borders is also concerning. It is estimated that Brazil has 41 routes for trafficking in persons.

Although the latest data is outdated - from 2002 - it reveals that the crime of human trafficking may be occurring all around the country and have even greater proportions.

Considered modern type of crime - the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was adopted in 2000 - one of the greatest challenges in the countering of human trafficking is the prosecution of criminals.

Although most countries have criminalized most forms of human trafficking in their legislation, the use of these laws to prosecute and convict traffickers remains limited. In the 2009  Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, for instance, two out of every five countries covered in the report had never recorded a single conviction for trafficking offences.

In order to contribute worldwide to the efforts to fight human trafficking in the legal aspect, UNODC regional office, together with the Brazilian National Justice Council (CNJ) and the National Secretary for Justice (SNJ) committed themselves to foster the UNODC Human Trafficking Case Law Database. Launched in October 2011, the Case Law Database is an online UNDOC initiative to build a global database of successful judicial decisions over human trafficking cases.

The database contains details on victims' and perpetrators' nationalities, trafficking routes, verdicts and other information related to prosecuted cases from across the world. The database aims to assist judges, prosecutors, policy-makers, media researchers and other interested parties by making available details of real cases with examples of how the respective national laws in place can be used to prosecute human trafficking.

It is expected that by the end of  2012 at least 50 Brazilian judicial sentences related to the issue become part of the UNODC Case Law Database.

The announcement was made during the opening session of the International Symposium for Combating Human Trafficking, held in Goiania on 14 and 15 May. The meeting, organized by the Brazilian National Council of Justice and the Court of Justice of the State of Goias brings together international and Brazilian authorities involved in the prevention, repression and care for the victims of human trafficking in order to discuss specific issues among the actors dealing with this problem. Furthermore, the Symposium aims at raising awareness on the seriousness of this global crime.

On the first day of the Symposium, Bo Mathiasen, regional representative of UNODC, stressed the importance of having a legal basis to combat human trafficking. "We know that human trafficking is one of the cruelest forms of organized crime and it is not possible to move forward in the fight against it without a solid and comprehensive legal basis, capable of providing the necessary tools to rigorously punish the entire chain of criminals involved. It is only possible to fight transnational organized crime if criminals have the perception that there is a real risk of being punished", said Mathiasen.

UNODC is responsible for supporting Member States in their compliance with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and for building of global response to this crime. UNDOC provides technical assistance to Member States in four key areas: prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims, criminal prosecution and international cooperation.

In Brazil, since 2006 UNODC provides technical cooperation regarding the fight against human trafficking. Brazil has a Network for Combating Human Trafficking, formed by diverse bodies of the Federal and State Governments, the Legislative, the Judiciary, Prosecutors and civil society, coordinated by the Ministry of Justice. Currently, this network counts 6 advanced points for combating of human trafficking and 15 centers, responsible for identifying, assisting and protecting possible victims of human trafficking.

All stories