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Wagner Moura meets victims of forced labour

May 9, 2017

Ahead of the launch of the 50 for Freedom campaign in Brazil, ILO Goodwill Ambassador, Wagner Moura, heard the testimonies of a group of workers who were rescued from forced labour.

©lisakristine.com

ILO Goodwill Ambassador, Wagner Moura, has spent years advocating for an end to modern slavery. However, he came face to face with former victims for the first time when he visited the ILO offices in Brasilia on 4 May.

The meeting took place ahead of the launch of the ILO’s 50 for Freedom campaign in the Brazilian Senate on 9 May.

‘My story of activism against forced labour comes from my childhood,’ he explained. ‘I come from a city in Bahia where I witnessed many cases of people working in slavery, and I spent a lot of my life believing that was normal.

‘When I understood that workers have human rights that need to be respected it became a very important issue for me because of my origin and it resulted in my role as an activist for human rights.’

‘But since my childhood I had never met face-to-face with workers who had been subjected to forced labour. So today was a strong encounter. Their testimonies were very beautiful, very strong and very dignified, especially. They all reinforced the idea of non-victimization and of their pride in participating in a campaign that could save other workers from experiencing a similar situation to the ones they went through.’

One of the testimonies he heard was that of Rafael Ferreira, whose story features on the 50 for Freedom campaign website. In it he tells how he was forced to work on a farm in Brazil’s rural Mato Grosso province to help pay off his father’s debts.

‘People enslaved are in fragile situations and therefore forced to work, work, work,’ said Ferreira, who today is studying civil engineering at university.

The 50 for Freedom campaign was launched in 2015 in collaboration with the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Organization of Employers. Its aim is to raise awareness of the 21 million people worldwide who are trapped in forced labour among citizens and policy makers and to encourage at least 50 governments to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol by the end of 2018.

The launch of 50FF in Brazil will take place in the National Congress and will bring together representatives from government, employers and workers, as well as former victims of forced labour, who will tell their own stories.

Wagner Moura has been ILO Goodwill Ambassador on forced labour since 2015. He has taken part in a number of 50 for Freedom launch events and has contributed to stories, blogs and video testimonies such as this real-life story:

After the meeting in the ILO offices, Moura restated his commitment to the campaign.

‘For me today was a very good day. I am very proud to have my image and my name linked to the ILO and the 50 for Freedom campaign.’