Article 203

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Abuse of vulnerability Coercive, unfair or deceptive recruitment Criminal liability Debt bondage Retention of travel and identification documents Wage manipulation, non-payment or withholding of wages

This Article criminalises the use of fraud or violence to violate any rights guaranteed by the law. This Article also penalises the practice of debt servitude, when it establishes that the same punishment applies to those who:

“force or coerce someone into using goods from a determined establishment, in order to make it impossible for them to leave the service of their employer owing to debt” and “prevent an individual from quitting employment of any kind, through coercion or the confiscation of contractual or personal documents”.

Notes

Article 203 complements Article 149 in addressing slave labour in the Brazilian context, insofar as it criminalises the use of fraud or violence to violate rights guaranteed by labour legislation. This article directly addresses the practice of debt bondage through the ‘truck system’ or ‘política do barracão’, by outlawing the use of force or coercion and the retention of documents in order to prevent a worker from leaving a service, and compelling someone into using products from a specific establishment in order to keep them trapped in a cycle of debt which forces them to stay with their employer.

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Article 203. Denying, through fraud or violence, a right guaranteed by law.

Penalty – imprisonment of 1 (one) to 2 (two) years, and a fine, on top of any penalty corresponding to the use of violence.

§1º The same penalty shall be applied to whosoever:

I – forces or coerces someone into using goods from a determined establishment, in order to make it impossible for them to leave the service of their employer owing to debt;

II – prevents an individual from quitting employment of any kind, through coercion or the confiscation of contractual or personal documents.

§2º The penalty is increased by a sixth to a third if the victim is less than 18 (eighteen) years old, elderly, pregnant, an indigenous Amerindian or a person with physical or mental disabilities.

Law / 7 December 1940 / Brazil / Criminal Code

The Brazilian Penal Code specifically deals with criminal liability for human trafficking, forced labour and slavery. However, these provisions are not applicable to corporate entities, as Brazilian legislation only provides for the criminal responsibility of corporations for environmental crimes and for corruption. Under the Criminal Code, civil liability may arise from any crime. Accordingly, while only the company’s executives can be charged with the crimes of forced labour, slavery and human trafficking, corporations can be held civilly liable for such crimes.