Most notably, in late 2018, they initiated an investigation into a forced labor case with great professionalism that involved four victims forced to work in a retail shop. In their official capacities, Varela and Correia handled the case with extreme sensitivity and caution, working closely with an international organization to ensure the victims were protected and their teams conducted the investigation correctly.
Varela and Correia demonstrated tremendous diligence in carrying out their investigation, working despite pressure to drop the case and overt hostility from the traffickers’ networks and their peers. In addition, thanks to their efforts, the victims were safely repatriated. This was Cabo Verde’s first official case of human trafficking where the government prosecuted defendants for human trafficking crimes, representing a critical milestone in the country’s understanding of and response to human trafficking. Throughout the course of the investigation, Varela and Correia showed an impressive level of perseverance in the face of immense difficulties, including foreign interference and threats to their personal safety, to pursue Cabo Verde’s first forced labor prosecution.