Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants

Human Trafficking

How do I know if I am a victim of human trafficking?

  • Did someone confiscate your ID or passport?
  • Does anyone force you to work to pay off a debt?
  • Were you deceived about the nature of a job, the location, or the employer?
  • Are you working days or hours in excess, or are you performing hazardous work?
  • Are you isolated, imprisoned or under surveillance?
  • Does anyone force you to work, to engage in delinquent activities or to have sex against your will?
  • Is anyone making threats against you or your family?

If you answered “yes” to these questions in relation to you or someone you know, you or that person may be victims of human trafficking.


Human trafficking, commonly defined as “modern slavery”, is the buying and selling of human beings (men, women and children) for purposes of exploitation, usually sexual, for forced labor or the extraction of organs. Traffickers threaten or use force, lies, coercion or abuse of power over victims.

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a gross violation of human rights. As a refugee or an asylum seeker, you have the same labor rights as a Brazilian citizen and must not be subjected to subhuman working conditions. If you suspect that someone may be committing this crime or if you know someone, including yourself, who may be a victim of this crime, you should report to the authorities.

For more information on trafficking, refer to the following websites:

Ministry of Justice (Portuguese only)

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes

Smuggling of Migrants

Smuggling of migrants means facilitation of illegal crossing of borders or illegal residence for the purpose of obtaining financial or other material benefit. This crime is often perpetrated by organized crime networks, who seize the opportunity to gain countless benefits with a low level of risk in what they consider a mercantile activity.


Smuggling of migrants requires migrant consent and ends with the arrival at a transnational destination. The distinctions between smuggling of migrants and human trafficking are subtle, and sometimes overlap.

If you have been smuggled into a new country and need international protection, please refer to the section on asylum claim.

Where can I find help?

If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or smuggling of migrants, you should contact the emergency hotline: 190 or 181. The call is free.

You can also request assistance at the “Núcleos de Enfrentamento ao Tráfico de Pessoas” (Centers for Confronting Human Trafficking) or at the units of the “Posto Avançado de Atendimento Humanizado ao Migrante” (Migrant Humanized Advanced Service Station), located at the main airports and road terminals in Brazil.


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