An Overview of International Human Trafficking in Brazil

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
Maria João Guia (ed.)The Illegal Business of Human Trafficking10.1007/978-3-319-09441-0_5

5. An Overview of International Human Trafficking in Brazil

Márcio Anselmo  and Guilherme Fernandes 

University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil



Márcio Anselmo (Corresponding author)


Guilherme Fernandes


This chapter aims to present an overview of international trafficking in persons in Brazil. The chapter will present a general overview of the Brazilian law dealing with the issue of international trafficking in persons, analysed from the perspective of international norms. The government action in the formulation of public policies on human trafficking is also analysed by the Brazilian National Policy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and the National Plan to Combat Traffic in Persons. At the end we show some data obtained from criminal investigations of the Brazilian Federal Police, the agency responsible for investigating crimes of international trafficking in persons.

5.1 Introduction

The issue of trafficking has been the subject of several recent studies in Brazil. Leal and Leal (2002) was the first study to draw a picture on the trafficking of women, children, and adolescents for sexual exploitation in Brazil, although subjected to harsh criticism for its methodology by Banchette and Silva (2012, pp. 107–125).

Illes et al. (2008) and Cacciamali and Azevedo (2006) studied the Bolivian trafficking for labour exploitation in the city of São Paulo; Piscitelli (2004, 2005, 2006) analysed the trafficking for sexual exploitation; and Castilho (2008) discussed the context of the Feminist Theoretical Criminology, critical to verify if the judges evaluate the facts in the gender perspective.

On the other hand, some recognise the need for studies and diagnostics on the subject (Campos et al. 2011, p. 245; Blanchette and Silva 2012, p. 108), since the report of the UNODC, The Globalization of Crime: the Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010, pp. 44–49), points to Brazil as a major market supplier of human trafficking, as well as other reports from international organisations (UNODC 2006, 2009), based almost exclusively on work by Leal and Leal (2002) and their derivatives in English, as well pointed out by Blanchette and Silva (2012, pp. 107–125).

In this chapter, we describe the Brazilian criminal law for trafficking in persons, examined in the light of international norms; we treat the public policies that combat trafficking in persons; and, in the end, we present some data obtained from criminal investigations conducted by the Brazilian Federal Police.

5.2 International Human Trafficking in Brazilian Law

Cacciamali and Azevedo (2006) classify human trafficking as the crossing of persons over boundaries. At the destination, those persons will be the subject of exploration by deceit, coercion, or violence. It is not important if the crossing over is made by illegal ways or not. But it is necessary that a previous intention of exploration and abuse of the person who will be crossed over boundaries exists.

Normally, the human trafficking victim wishes to emigrate because she is looking for better life opportunities, of any order: economic or social. So the baiter offers her better work conditions at the place of destination, eluding the victim with attractive employment offers. However, when the victim arrives at the promised place, she is taken to a precarious environment and finds herself in situations such as captivity, slavery by debts, prostitution, and illegal human organs trafficking.

The concept of human trafficking can be found in the Protocols that supplement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 55/25, which has entered into force on December 25, 2003, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 55/25, which has entered into force on January 28, 2004.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the States that ratify the instrument commit themselves to take a series of measures against transnational organised crime. This includes the creation of domestic criminal offences (penal types), the adoption of new and sweeping frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance, and law enforcement cooperation. Nevertheless, as this is not sufficient, the States must also enforce the promotion of training and technical assistance to build or upgrade the necessary capacity of national authorities.

In trafficking in persons, the victim’s consent is irrelevant. Furthermore, in case of any children being involved—children being anyone under 18 years old—the transport, housing, or reception, with the aim to explore, is by the mere conduct itself trafficking in persons.

In turn, the trafficking of immigrants is defined in the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. Its third article determines that immigrant trafficking means the promotion, with the aim to obtain, directly or not, a financial benefit or just a material benefit from the illegal entrance of a person into a foreign land.

In the trafficking of immigrants, a greater relevance is given to the consent of the victim than in the trafficking of persons because, in this case, the consent of the victim makes a difference. It is relevant. Moreover, the trafficking of immigrants always involves the crossing of boundaries, while the trafficking of persons can take place from a region to another region of the same country. It means that it can happen inside a unique country.

Human trafficking—conglobating the two modalities—demands a high capacity of interaction with criminal networks, principally related to countries connected to drug trafficking. In this manner, it can achieve ways of eluding to preserve its obscurity, for example looking for alternative routes, corrupting boundary control authorities, using violence, and anything else. In an ordinary way, the recruitment occurs in the country of origin, but it can also occur during the journey or in the destination place, by a person or a “specific recruitment agency”, which can be legal, working just as a frontispiece.

Cacciamali and Azevedo (2006) affirm that the transportation of persons involves individuals who facilitate the trafficking between countries. It means that they facilitate not only in the origin but also during the journey and in the destination. Once in the destination, the persons are kept by several ways of coercion: violence, physical restriction of liberty, fraud, imprisonment, or confiscated documentation—ordinarily, in the beginning of the journey, the mediator confiscates the documents of the victim.

Although there are tenuous differences, trafficking in persons and trafficking of immigrants are mixed and normally occur at the same time. The Brazilian law adopted both international documents by Decree 5.017 and 5.016 of 2004.

In the Brazilian Penal Code, article 231 typifies the action of promoting, intermediating, or facilitating the entrance into national territory of a person who is about to be prostituted. It also punishes the person who promotes, intermediates, or facilitates the going out of another person to be prostituted outside of Brazil. This criminal type is located in chapter V of the Brazilian Penal Code, which deals with pimping and international trafficking in persons. This article aims to protect sexual public morality and sexual liberty (Delmanto et al. 2007). The punishment for this penal type is deprivation of liberty from 3 to 8 years and a pecuniary penalty, if there is an aim to obtain any profit.

Article 231-A typifies the action of promoting, intermediating, or facilitating, inside the national territory, the recruitment, transport, transfer, housing, or reception of the person who will be prostituted. While article 231 criminalises international trafficking in persons, article 231-A aims to criminalise internal trafficking in persons. It means internal activities that contribute to involve persons in sexual exploration. Article 231-A also aims to protect sexual public morality and sexual liberty (Delmanto et al. 2007). The punishment for this crime is the same as in article 231.

In both articles, the victim can be a person of any gender; they are not restricted to the protection of women. The crime delineated by article 231 is completed with the effective entrance or exit. So it is not necessary for the victim to be prostituted. In its turn, article 231-A completes itself with the recruitment, transport, transfer, housing, or reception of the victim. It is also not necessary to effectively prove prostitution; the mere intent is sufficient (Delmanto et al. 2007).

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