UN blasts Brazil over slavery

The United Nations on Sept. 14 expressed its concern over forced labor in Brazil, asserting that businesses treat workers as virtual slaves with “impunity.” Gulnara Shahinian, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, visited Brazil in May, and in a report praised the country for acknowledging the problem of forced labor and taking measures against it. “These exemplary actions are, however, threatened by the impunity enjoyed by landowners, local and international companies and intermediaries,” the report said. (Expatica, Sept. 14)

Brazilian authorities this week announced they had rescued 95 farm workers who were being kept in slave-like conditions in two south-eastern states. Forty-four workers were rescued from a sugar-cane plantation in Campo de Goytacazes, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and 51 from a strawberry farm in Cambui, Minas Gerais. The workers were not registered and had no clean drinking water or safety equipment for handling farm chemicals.

Brazil’s government launched a plan to eradicate slavery in 2002, and reports rescuing 5,266 workers in 2008. But Joao Pedro Stedile of the Movement of Landless Workers (MST) warns that there are likely four to five times that number still enslaved in Brazil. (CNN, Post Media News, BBC News, Sept. 12)

See our last post on Brazil.

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