Brasilia (Agenzia Fides) - From 1995 to the presen, about 60,000 people have been rescued from labor slavery in Brazil. According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Labor, the year 2022 ended with the number of 2,575 people rescued. The figures, released on the occasion of the National Day to Combat Slave Labor, which is celebrated in Brazil on January 28, represent an all-time record compared to the numbers recorded over the past nine years.
This is noted in the joint note signed by three Commissions of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (for the fight against human trafficking, for socio-transformative action and for the pastoral care of the Earth), signed by 103 ecclesial and civil society entities and realities engaged on this front. They launch an appeal to all Christians and people of good will to make this day "a milestone in the fight against contemporary slavery".
In our day, slavery presents itself in different ways, the note reminds, whether through the imposition of grueling work schedules, or through degrading conditions, or as debt bondage or forced labor.
Society has a responsibility to demand an economy that values dignity rather than greed, and this implies, among other things, an end to the practice of slave labor that still persists in various sectors, such as agriculture, large crops, civil construction, clothing, coal, mining, hotel services or domestic work.
"The exploitation of human beings through slave labor is a most serious violation of the rights of the human person, denying his dignity and especially the right to decent work," reiterate the signatories of the document, noting that work should never become an opportunity to violate the dignity of the person.
The Church, committed to the lives of workers, once again reiterates its no to modern-day slave labor, reaffirming the right to dignified work for all. It then renews "the call to the Brazilian state to intensify its historic commitment to effective policies that can inhibit the crime of slave labor," and renews its call "for the protection and support of those fighting for the end of slave labor, whether public officials or members of civil society."
The note also draws attention to the very serious decline in the budget and labor tax audit mechanism (more than 45 percent of the statutory staff is missing), as no public tenders have been held since 2013. Ensuring a decent life for those who have been freed from bonded labor should require all the necessary attention and also the implementation of appropriate policies.
The National Day to Combat Slave Labor is celebrated in Brazil on January 28 each year remembering on that date the January 2004 murders of three labor tax auditors and the driver during the inspection of rural properties in the Unaí region of Mato Grosso. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 27/1/2023)
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