Every year, the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons highlights the efforts of individuals from all over the world who work tirelessly to ensure that every person, no matter one's nation of origin or standing in society, is able to pursue a life of freedom. In the days leading up to the release of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report on June 14, 2010, DipNote will share their stories. About of Author: Talley Sergent is a Public Affairs Officer in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Brother Xavier Plassat, a French Dominican friar, came to Brazil in 1983 and began to work with the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in 1989 on behalf of the rural poor in the rapidly growing northern part of the country. Since 1997, he has been the coordinator of CPT's National Campaign Against Slave Labor. He leads an extensive network of volunteers who denounce cases of slave labor, provide necessary services for the rehabilitation of rescued victims of forced labor, and advocate for legal enforcement and consistency of public policies against modern slavery. CPT works closely with NGOs, trade unions, landless movements, and small farmers in all 26 states and the Federal District -- receiving complaints directly from escaped laborers, collecting and publishing extensive data on the slave-labor problem, and running a number of programs to provide alternative employment and income for freed workers.
Brother Plassat has represented CPT on the National Commission for the Eradication of Slave Labor since 2003. He received the Chico Mendes Resistance Medal in 2006 and the National Human Rights Prize of the Presidency of the Republic in 2008. On behalf of CPT, he received the Harriet Tubman Freedom Award in 2008 from Free the Slaves and the John Templeton Foundation.