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FACTBOX: Why do employers fear Brazil's slavery 'dirty list'?

by Fabio Teixeira | @ffctt | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 17 June 2019 01:00 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Workers clean the floor at the 26th International Automobile Trade Show in Sao Paulo October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

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Created in 2004, the list has been hailed by the United Nations as a key tool in Brazil's anti-slavery drive

By Fabio Teixeira

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - B razil's "dirty list" of employers that have engaged in slave labor is considered one the country's best tools in its efforts to end slave labor. When last published, in April, it had about 186 names.

The list is under scrutiny as major firms have been found to have used legal means to avoid being put on it.

Here are some answers about how the list works.

What is the "dirty list"?

It is a registry of employers that have been found by the government to have engaged in slave labor. It gives transparency to a decision already reached by the Brazilian state.

Created in 2004, it has been hailed by the United Nations as a key tool in Brazil's anti-slavery drive.

Who makes the "dirty list"?

The list is edited by the Division of Inspection for the Eradication of Slave Labor (DETRAE), a state body staffed by labor inspectors.

How does a company get added to it?

If a labor inspector fines someone for employing slave labor, it starts an internal government procedure where the employer can defend himself.

After all possibility of appeal is exhausted, if the employer is found guilty, his name or the name of his firm is added to the list.

What happens after a name is added?

It will stay on the list for two years. During that time, labor inspectors will monitor the employer to see if labor conditions have improved.

How often is the list published?

Government guidelines state it can be updated at anytime, but it must be published at least every six months.

Do people on the list face jail time?

Being on the list does not mean the employer has been found guilty of slave labor in a criminal court.

In Brazil the judiciary and the executive branches are independent and can reach different conclusions.

A person found guilty of engaging in slave labor faces up to eight years in jail.

Why is the "dirty list" feared by employers?

Beyond having their brand or names associated with slave labor, employers on the list have their access to credit lines by state banks restricted.

Private banks also use it to gauge credit risk. International buyers concerned with their supply chain also look up names on the list.

Is there a way to avoid the list?

A government guideline from 2016 established that a employer may strike a deal with the government by agreeing to a series of obligations.

Employers that reach a deal are put on a separate monitoring list. Being named on this list does not carry the same consequences as being on the "dirty list."

Firms on the monitoring list can request the removal of their names from it after a year instead of the two years from the "dirty list."

Sources: Brazil's government, Thomson Reuters Foundation.

(Reporting by Fabio Teixeira; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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