Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Slavery In Portugal: 4 Held For Enslaving Man For 17 Years

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LISBON: Portugal’s criminal police arrested four people for slavery for holding a man captive for 17 years in the northern region of Braganca.

The 54-year-old man was subjected to physical and psychological abuse, and “rented” out to third parties for agricultural work. The victim, who has a learning disability and no family support, received no payment for his work. He was controlled by the suspects who had seized his documents, the police said.

“He lived in a degrading situation, spending the night in a van…without the minimum living, health, hygiene and food conditions,” the police said. “The defendants never allowed him to receive medical care – not even when he suffered a serious accident.”

The victim, who suffered permanent injuries that affect his mobility, eventually managed to escape and was now receiving specialised support.

Those arrested, aged 37-44, will appear before a judge to be questioned on suspicion of crimes of slavery, human trafficking and forgery. The police did not reveal the victim’s nationality.

Cases of labour exploitation and human trafficking are growing in Portugal, particularly in the agricultural sector. There have been several cases of poor migrants trapped in unpaid work on farms.

In November last year, 28 people suspected of human trafficking and labour exploitation were arrested following police raids on farms in Portugal’s southern Alentejo region.

In June 2022 that Portuguese authorities identified 1,152 presumed victims of trafficking in 2016-2020, says a report by the Council of Europe. The number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions was low compared to the number of victims, the report says.

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