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FNI and UFMG Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic Provide Comprehensive Report to the UN

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

In an update to their collaboration from February, 2023, the Facts and Norms Institute (FNI) and the UFMG Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic proudly announce the successful completion and submission of their report to the United Nations.

The report is a response to a questionnaire designed by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery. The questions were aimed at understanding how new technologies are used to facilitate enslavement, as well as to tackle it.

Voices from the Field

The methodology chosen was qualitative and empirical, with interviews being at its heart. These interviews were steered by the UN Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire but were made flexible enough to allow a free flow of thoughts and insights from the participants.

Among the notable professionals consulted were Andrea da Rocha Carvalho Gondim of the Labor Prosecution Service; Federal Police Commissioners João Luiz Moraes Rosa and Eduardo Adolfo do Carmo Assis; Gustavo Nogami, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Federal Prosecution Service; Humberto Monteiro Camasmie, a Labor Inspector; Lutiana Valadares Fernandes Barbosa from the Federal Public Defender's Service; and Maurício Krepsky Fagundes, both a Labor Inspector and the Head of the Inspection Division for the Eradication of Slave Labor.

Their contributions were made through various means - written responses, video conferences, and even WhatsApp voice messages throughout March 2023.

Technology as a double-edged sword

A salient point the research emphasized is the rising employment of modern technology in recruiting victims into contemporary slavery forms in Brazil. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp, along with job portals such as OLX, are increasingly becoming recruitment hotspots.

When it came to victims, it was discerned that the majority are young females, covering cisgender, transgender women, and, alarmingly, female children. These victims often get ensnared through offers of seemingly lucrative opportunities in the arts or modeling. Conversely, the primary exploiters were identified as human traffickers, criminal organizations, and certain private-sector employers.

Interestingly, while technology serves as a tool for these grim recruitments, the government's proactive initiatives addressing this issue are noticeably scant. However, there have been notable efforts like the collaboration between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors resulting in the creation of Redtram, which has delved deep into the issue.

Tech companies have faced considerable flak for their role, or lack thereof, in this arena. They've been largely criticized for not being vigilant enough in preventing misuse, particularly for human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.

Nevertheless, civil society organizations have been stepping up. Key players like the Pastoral Service for Migrants have been unyielding in their fight against slavery. Their efforts, especially in spreading information about potential cases via the internet and social media, have been invaluable.

The report doesn't shy away from highlighting the challenges, including the erratic nature of transnational crime, the complexities in discerning genuine social media profiles from the false, and the persistent need for enhanced coordination across sectors.

Concluding on a proactive note, the report makes several practical recommendations. These encompass establishing specialized intelligence units, urging tech companies to enhance their monitoring systems, promoting the ethical use of Internet and AI, and more.

Technology, as the report underscores, is a double-edged sword. While it can facilitate modern slavery, with coordinated efforts, it holds immense potential in helping eradicate it.


About the Facts and Norms Institute:

The Facts and Norms Institute (FNI) is an independent academic institution based in the Global South, with members present on all continents. The Institute’s mission is straightforward: to promote a rational, human rights-based approach to social issues.

FNI is a frequent contributor to the work of the United Nations, with more than 20 technical notes and reports submitted to the UN Special Procedures in recent years.

About the UFMG Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic:

The Federal University of Minas Gerais ("Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais", or "UFMG") is one of the largest universities in the world, with almost 50,000 students.

The UFMG Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic is a project from the UFMG School of Law. The Clinic is part of Clinnect HTS, an international network of clinics which are dedicated to the study of, and the struggle against, human trafficking and slave labor.

The Clinic’s activities encompass, among others: i) training students in both the theory and practice of slavery and human trafficking; ii) performing legal aid and assistance to the victims and their families; iii) ´promoting education and awareness about human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.


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