The government maintained protection efforts. According to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MOJPS), authorities continued to use the victim identification guidance created in 2013 for all federal, state, and local governments to aid victim identification and assistance. However, government officials did not receive training on the use of such guidance, and there was no indication that authorities in most states proactively or consistently identified victims of sex trafficking, forced criminality, or child sex tourism. Officials from the labor inspector’s office identified victims of slave labor while conducting impromptu inspections into businesses or employers suspected of using slave labor. The MOJPS maintained nine posts at airports and bus stations where authorities could encounter potential victims, a decrease from 12 advanced posts in 2019. Several government agencies at various levels provided data on victim identification and assistance; however, lack of a centralized database and inconsistent reporting made year-to-year comparisons difficult. In 2019, authorities in 10 states reported identifying 217 victims, of which 105 were victims of sex trafficking, 85 were victims of slave labor, 12 were victims of forced criminality, and 15 unknown. Identification efforts varied greatly from state-to-state. Nearly 50 percent of the victims reported in 2019 were identified in the tri-border State of Parana, including 89 of the 105 victims of sex trafficking, 20 of the 85 victims of slave labor, and three of the 12 victims of forced criminality, while more populous states, such as Rio de Janeiro, identified only three victims—two for sex trafficking and one for forced labor. Labor inspectors at the federal level indicated that all 1,054 victims of slave labor received information on basic resources available to them and confirmed that 787 possible victims received unemployment insurance. The government did not report what other services victims received.
Law 13.344 mandated the government provide victims with temporary shelter; legal, social, and health assistance; and protection against re-victimization; however, implementation of the law was inconsistent across states. Authorities continued to operate 16 state-level and one municipal level anti-trafficking offices (NETPs). NETPs operated interagency networks that could serve as the first point of contact for victims who have been identified by any means, including NGOs. Most agencies with equities participated in the network, and NETPs could refer victims of adult sex trafficking to Specialized Social Service Centers (CREAS), victims of forced labor to the Secretariat of Labor Inspections (SIT), and child victims of trafficking to guardianship councils. In 2019, ten of the NETPs reported assisting 129 possible victims. Adult victims referred to CREAS could receive assistance from non-specialized psychologists and social workers for the third year in a row; authorities did not report what kind of assistance was provided or how many victims received assistance through these centers. A government official indicated that the NETPs were not distributed in a balanced way across the country. In wealthier states, such as Sao Paulo, the NETP had effective assistance and coordination teams that comprised police officers, prosecutors, labor inspectors, labor prosecutors, and mental health professionals. In contrast, other NETPs were not as well-funded or equipped to refer and assist victims. Many states where trafficking was prevalent and vulnerabilities were high did not have NETPs or CREAS, including many located in border states, where the need was great. In 2019, authorities launched a new initiative to increase the protection of transgender trafficking victims. Federal and labor prosecutors in Sao Paulo state conducted at least two operations accompanied by a civil society organization focused on the protection of transgender rights. According to media reports, authorities identified 30 victims, of which 10 received shelter and assistance by the same NGO that collaborated with law enforcement.
The federal government did not fund specialized or long-term shelters for trafficking victims. Some states placed victims in shelters for migrants, the homeless, or victims of domestic violence. States did not have specialized shelters for child sex trafficking victims, and guardianship councils often lacked the expertise and resources to adequately identify, refer, and support child victims. The state of Sao Paulo had two main shelters where trafficking victims could receive assistance— one was a state government-funded shelter where female victims and their children could receive health benefits, education, food, and housing for three to six months; and the other was an NGO-operated shelter that provided temporary assistance for refugees and trafficking victims. Both shelters were occupied by displaced Venezuelans during the reporting period, and state authorities did not report how many victims of trafficking received assistance. There were no specialized shelters for male victims of trafficking. In addition, authorities indicated there were 87 non-specialized shelters where vulnerable populations, including LGBTI individuals, homeless people, victims of domestic violence, and trafficking victims could receive assistance. It was unclear how many trafficking victims were assisted in those shelters during the reporting period. Despite being the second most populous city in the country, Rio de Janeiro did not have any specialized shelters for victims of sex trafficking, and officials from the MPT used assets forfeited from traffickers to provide care to victims of slave labor. To increase and expedite access to care, some state governments, through MPT, adopted an integrated approach that sought restitution from traffickers for damages caused, assistance with vocational training, and job placements. In 2019, the state governments of Bahia, Ceará, Mato Grosso, and Rio de Janeiro sought to complement assistance for victims of slave labor through this program. MPT officials in Rio de Janeiro State assisted 12 of the victims identified through the program, but authorities at the federal level did not report what services the remaining 215 victims received. Authorities provided training for 242 guardianship council social workers on the worst forms of child labor, including trafficking.
Authorities penalized victims for unlawful acts that traffickers forced them to commit. Due to a lack of formal identification and screening, officials arrested some foreign women for drug trafficking crimes committed under coercion and as a result of their trafficking situation. The government had measures to encourage victims to testify in the case against their traffickers, including allowing remote live video testimony. However, authorities have never reported using these measures for trafficking cases. Observers continued to express concern about the under-reporting of trafficking crimes, attributing it in part to victims’ lack of awareness of protection services and fear that filing complaints will lead to further exploitation, deportation, or other harm. Foreign trafficking victims were entitled to permanent visa status, but for the fourth consecutive year authorities did not report how many victims received it. The government could assist victims of trafficking with repatriation, but authorities have not reported assisting any victims since 2017.