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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Lecture on InPACTO Human Rights Trafficking Efforts at the Amerikazentrum

When we hear “Human Trafficking” many of us think about the sale of young women into the sex industry, kidnapping, maids employed by wealthy families turned into slaves. This kind of Human Trafficking is very often reported in the news.    However, Human Trafficking is also a Major Supply Chain Issue. Traffickers are targeting vulnerable workers to fill labour shortages or to save costs, everywhere along the supply chain.

The AWC Hamburg invited Mercia C. Silva, Executive Secretary of InPACTO (founded 2013) to present how Brazil is nationally tackling Human Tracking along the Supply Chain.  InPACTO’s vision is to free Brazil of Slave Labour.

Mercia shared some examples of the problems: - Many supply chains start on farms, some in very remote areas.   “The sheets in a hotel may be made with cotton harvested by forced labour”; “The Soya based products we consume or the coffee we drink, may come from farms were work conditions are dirty, dangerous and difficult”.   Charcoal and Mining production in degrading working conditions and exhausting work days for little pay.  Mercia emphasized that “Although human trafficking is found in many trades, the risk is more pronounced in industries that rely upon low-skilled or unskilled labour”

InPACTO, started by creating a “Dirty List”, Farms, mining companies etc.… that participated in Slave Labour would be listed. InPACTO used this list to encourage Governmental support and highlight the extent of the issue.  Governing Audits are now taking place, along with training and tools to help eradicate labour exploitation.    No one wants to be on the ‘Dirty List’.  

We are living in a globalized economy, hence beyond Governments playing an important leadership role in combating human trafficking, Companies also have a responsibility to take action.  InPACTO have been very successful in focusing on the international community, forcing Companies to understand the supply chains of their products and also examine the risks to those workers who provide them.   Very often companies are unaware of bad practices, with so many layers of separation in the Supply Chain.

InPACTO have received the support of many companies, such as Cargill, Carrefour, Walmart just to mention a few. Business leaders are starting to create anti-trafficking policies that address the common risks in their supply chains. Hence many local suppliers are now conforming to these policies and therefore benefiting from providing to International companies while at the same time participating in fair labour practices.

As we know Human Trafficking along the Supply chain is not unique to Brazil, however InPACTO are trying to share how they have advanced in this area in a short time, hoping to receive wider International Support.  Mercia will present InPACTO at the 2017 International Labour Conference in Geneva next month and on behalf of AWC Hamburg we wish you continued success.

Check out InPACTO website:  www.inpacto.org.br

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(left: AWCH Vice President Laura L and right: Mercia Silva of InPacto)

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