Fighting Forced Labor in Brazil’s Coffee Fields

Comprehensive Action Towards Forced Labor Eradication (CAFE)

  • Supply Chain Management
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    Brazil is the world’s leading coffee producer. It’s also a world leader in progressive legislation guaranteeing basic rights and human dignity for workers. Unfortunately, thanks in part to a number of high profile prosecutions by the country’s authorities, it’s become clear that there is both a real need and deep support to combat forced labor in Brazil’s coffee fields. With funding from the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, GFEMS is supporting partners in this fight.

    The project, Comprehensive Action Towards Forced Labor Eradication (CAFE), has two activity streams:

    1. Establish a grievance mechanism that will allow workers to report instances of abuse.

    2. Develop a machine-learning powered decision support tool, which will help authorities better target raids and other enforcement actions.

    The Grievance Mechanism: Nossa Voz

    Often, labor irregularities can escalate to more serious violations, including human rights abuses. Thus, grievance mechanisms are important tools for workers to get help and prevent escalation. However, complaint channels usually lack the necessary accessibility, transparency, legitimacy, and trust that push workers to come forward.

    Nossa Voz (“Our Voice”) aims to fill in these gaps while being built upon the UN Guiding Principles criteria, the OECD Guidelines on the development of operational-level grievance mechanisms, and on an extensive process of local consultation. Nossa Voz relies on the technical support of a national worker organization in Brazil that will provide assistance to the complainant and producer to find a solution for each case.

    But a grievance mechanism alone is not enough. For real success, workers need to be aware of it and empowered to use it. We’ve partnered with Instituto Trabalho Decente (ITD) to work in municipalities with high levels of social vulnerability and where people are recruited for oft-exploitative seasonal coffee work. ITD is strengthening public policy, building capacity of local unions, and engaging workers to lay the groundwork for Nossa Voz and otherwise guarantee workers’ rights.

    The Decision Support Tool

    The Human Trafficking Data Lab at Stanford University is working with Brazil’s Federal Labor Prosecutor’s Office (FLPO) to create a Decision Support Tool powered by machine learning. The tool will provide rapid, evidence-based analytics on which cases have the greatest trafficking risk, critical time sensitivities, and opportunities to bundle inspections by trafficking ‘nodes’ or ‘clusters.’ Overall, the tool will help authorities act more efficiently and effectively. The tool draws on a vast pool of administrative data, including outcomes from 5,500 trafficking investigations that involved over 40,000 survivors and thousands of related firms. Stanford and the FLPO are working in lockstep to ensure the tool integrates with their existing systems and processes.


    CAFE is delivered by talented and deeply connected organizations in Brazil.


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