TIP Award Year:
When Brother Plassat first visited Brazil, he was struck by the poverty he witnessed. He decided to move to Brazil. He came in the 1980s, and by the late 1980s was working with the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), which is coordinated by Catholic Relief Services and works on land reform projects throughout areas of Brazil. In his capacity at CPT, he first came across forced labor through reports of escaped survivors. Deep in the rural areas, and in the mountains, there were people enslaving others to farm, to work, and to perform other types of labor. However, at the time, the Brazilian government did not recognize slavery, nor were they concerned about the issue. The CPT continued to work in the capacities it could, until the Brazilian government formally recognized the problem of modern-day slavery in 1995. Two years later, the CPT began a National Campaign Against Slave Labor. Brother Xavier Plassat is the Coordinator of the Campaign.
Between 25,000 and 40,000 Brazilians are trafficked every year into slave labor. Brother Plassat and the CPT first became involved because of forced labor in agricultural settings, since their work focused on land reform. However, they have expanded their focus to include other industries where slave labor is being utilized. Brother Plassat, and a network of volunteers, provide services to survivors, has helped rescue operations and raids, networks between various NGOs, and the government, and provides vocational opportunities. They also build awareness of this issue in the labor force around the country, attempting to help laborers avoid exploitative situations. Brother Plassat and the CPT continue to work on land reform as well, believing that the only way to combat the problem is to effectively prevent it by giving people a sustainable income. In 2010, he was honored as a "TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery" in recognition of his efforts to combat human trafficking.
In the 2014 TIP Report, Brazil was listed as a Tier 2 country. It is a large source country, and a destination, for victims of sex trafficking and victims of forced labor. Brazilian women and children are trafficked internally and abroad for sexual purposes. Some Brazilian men are in forced labor situations, as are some immigrant men, women, and children. Domestic servitude is an issue, but the scope of the problem is unclear. Prosecutions were initiated, but have been slow, and victim services are lacking.