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Olympic Games building firm, cult added to Brazil's slavery 'dirty list'

by Fabio Teixeira | @ffctt | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 3 April 2020 21:26 GMT

Firms on the labour abuse 'dirty list' are blocked from getting loans and face restrictions on sales

By Fabio Teixeira

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A company that helped build Rio de Janeiro's Olympic village for the 2016 Games and a religious group that enslaved hundreds of people were named on Friday to Brazil's "dirty list," one of the country's most powerful anti-slavery tools.

The two were among 41 employers added to the roster of blacklisted companies and organizations to be blocked from getting state loans and face restrictions on sales.

Currently 182 names are on the "dirty list," which also is used by banks to gauge credit risk and by buyers concerned about supply chains.

Brasil Global de Serviços, one of many firms subcontracted to develop a residential complex for athletes at Rio's Olympic Games, was found to have submitted 10 workers to degrading conditions in 2015.

The workers from poor states in Brazil's northeast were promised room and board but kept in lodgings with no running water or working bathrooms and were made to pay rent, food and transportation, said the inspection report.

Representatives for Brasil Global could not immediately be reached for comment.

In Brazil, slavery is defined as forced labor but also covers debt bondage, degrading work conditions, long hours that pose a risk to health and any work that violates human dignity.

At Nova Visão Assessoria e Consultoria Empresarial, a firm linked to religious cult Igreja Cristã Traduzindo o Verbo, about 565 people were found in slavery-like conditions in 2018 at its farms, factories and restaurants.

A report by labor inspectors said the church invited poor people, especially recovering drug addicts, to live in shared housing in Sao Paulo.

The followers were pressured to donate their possessions and work for businesses linked to the church, it found.

Representatives for Traduzindo o Verbo also could not immediately be reached for comment. The "dirty list," created in 2003, is updated every six months. Once added to the list, a name stays for two years and is removed if there are no further findings of labor abuse after that period.

Brazil officially recognized the active use of slave labor in 1995 and launched a specialized mobile enforcement group to work with prosecutors and police to find and raid farms, construction sites and companies suspected of using slave workers.

Since then, about 54,000 people have been freed from slave-like work, according to government figures, most of them men who were either illiterate or had not completed basic education.

About 40 million people globally are estimated to be enslaved in forced labor and forced marriages, according to the U.N. International Labour Organization (ILO). (Reporting by Fabio Teixeira @ffctt; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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