Setback in combating slave labor

Slave labor conditions found at supplier of retail chain Lojas Americanas Slave labor conditions found at supplier of retail chain Lojas Americanas

The suspension of the so-called slave labor ‘blacklist’ by the Supreme Court, through an injunction issued in December by the court’s president, Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, was denounced this Friday (March 13) in the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva. The decree suspended by the Supreme Court prevented the extension of public credit and subsidies to companies found using slave labor.

In an oral statement at the 28th session of the Council, the organizations Conectas and Repórter Brasil argued that the suspension of the list has created a regulatory vacuum allowing nearly 600 companies and individuals to continue exploiting workers with public funds.

Click here to read the full statement.

“Apparently, a concerted action by industry segments often included in the list was successful, through the back door, in obtaining temporary relief,” they said.

The organizations also requested a visit to Brazil by the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola, in order to assess the impact of the Supreme Court decision on the combat of slave labor.

“The decision by Justice Lewandowski has ended one ‘blacklist’, but this does not mean that others cannot be created,” said Marcel Gomes of Repórter Brasil. “Companies and the government cannot stand idly by. Companies have a duty to set up internal mechanisms to ensure that they don’t support businesses and individuals that use slave labor.”

Through a freedom of information request, Repórter Brasil obtained from the Ministry of Labor a list of employers charged and found guilty of using slave labor conditions between 2012 and 2014. The new ‘blacklist’ may be accessed here.

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