Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Immigrants

Human trafficking

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

  • Did someone take away your identity card or passport?
  • Does someone force you to work to pay off a debt?
  • Were you misled about the nature of the job, the location, or the employer?
  • Are you working excessive days or hours, or are you doing dangerous work?
  • Are you isolated, locked up or under surveillance?
  • Does someone force you to work, engage in criminal activity, or have sex against your will?
  • Is there someone who threatens to harm you or your family?

If you answered “yes” to those questions in relation to yourself or someone you know, you or that person may be a victim of human trafficking.

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

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a serious violation of human rights. As an asylum seeker or refugee, you have the same employment rights as a Brazilian citizen and should 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 it to the authorities.

For more information on human trafficking, see the following websites:

Ministry of Justice and Public Security (in Portuguese)

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (in English)

Immigrant smuggling

Illicit trafficking or smuggling of immigrants is understood as facilitating the illegal crossing of borders or illegal residence with the aim of obtaining a financial or other material benefit. This crime is perpetrated many times by organized criminal networks that take advantage of the opportunity to obtain large profits, with a low level of risk, in what they consider a commercial activity. For more information on smuggling of migrants, click here.

The smuggling of immigrants implies the consent of the migrant and ends with their arrival at a transnational destination. The distinctions between migrant smuggling and human trafficking are subtle and sometimes overlap.

If you have been smuggled into a new country and need international protection, see the section on applying for asylum


How do I seek help?

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

You can also request direct assistance at the Centers against Trafficking in Persons, as well as at the units of the Outpost for Humanized Migrant Assistance that can be found at the main airports and bus stations in Brazil.