UCF Global Perspectives


Brazilian President Fails to Narrow Modern Slavery Definition

Maggie Morgan, Francis Bok Human Trafficking Awareness Fellow

October 27, 2017

A government directive by Brazil’s ministry of labor published a redefinition of “slave-like work” on Monday, October 17 (The Guardian). The International Labor Organization (ILO) expressed concerns that the new government decree “runs the risk of interrupting” the progress made by Brazil on fighting slave labor (Reuters). The original law listed four conditions to categorize slave-like labor, but the narrowed definition would only keep two of these. The new decree requires that slaves must be held against their will and slaveholders must be caught in the act by two government officials (Mongabay).

On Monday, October 24, the decree was suspended by the Brazilian supreme court. Justice Rosa Weber stated in her decision that the reduction of the scope of what is considered slave labor violated the constitution (Reuters 2). Weber also argued that the decree had the potential to damage trade relations, as other countries could cite slave labor as unfair competition (Reuters 2). Critics of Brazilian President Temer believe that his efforts to change the laws were politically motivated, as he sought to bargain with powerful agricultural lobbyists (Reuters 1).






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