Federal Supreme Court decides ´dirty list´ on slave labour to be maintained

Action taken by the Brazilian Association of Real Estate Developers sheds doubt on the ordinance that regulates the mechanism which has been upheld by a majority vote in the Court

Foto: Maria Anffe / GcomMT Foto: Maria Anffe / GcomMT

The Supreme Federal Court has decided, by a majority vote, to uphold one of the country´s principal devices to combat work akin to slavery, the ´dirty list´ of slave labour, on Monday 14. 

The ADPF 509 (Ordinance) was issued by the Brazilian Association of Real Estate Developers (ABRAINC) in January 2018 shedding doubt on the constitutionality of inter-ministerial ordinance MTPS/MMIRDH nº 04/2016, that underpins the mechanism. The organisation alleges that publication of the list could only be regulated by a specific law and not by Executive authority.

When casting his vote, the rapporteur of the action, Minister Marco Aurélio, stressed that the device makes “transparency viable” and that “rather than finalising sanctions, it publicises final decisions on infraction reports issued by the income tax inspector.” This means the ´dirty list´ should not be seen as a mechanism that imposes sanctions on businesses that are not set out in law, but instead as a means of transparency.

For further reading:

Minister Edson Fachin defended the constitutionality of the ordinance by stressing the duty of the state in guaranteeing the fundamental rights of its citizens.

“The option of maximising profits to the detriment of workers´ health and integrity is not a constitutional choice and fighting this cruel form of subjugating human beings is a duty inherent in the configuration of the Brazilian state as a political organisation based on respect for fundamental and social rights, that must be guaranteed equally for all people.” He stated.

According to the lawyer, Paula Nunes, who is representing Conectas on this case, the decision reaffirms the importance of this mechanism in combatting contemporary slavery.

“The Supreme Federal Court has taken an important step towards maintaining a device that is fundamental to our policy of eradicating slave labour in Brazil.” Said Nunes. “This device, along with other mechanisms of eradication, has been suffering harsh blows in recent years, like, for example, reduced budgets and the abolition of the Ministry for Labour.” She added.

Watch Conectas´ oral statement as amicus curiae on this case:


Find out more

Receive Conectas updates by email