Diário de Notícias is running an exposé this week in which journalist Valentina Marcelina tracks 50 cases of human trafficking and discovers that only one of them resulted in a jail term for the racketeers.
Despite the fact that more than 200 people were found to be working in deplorable conditions, mainly in agricultural businesses in the Alentejo, their exploiters almost to a man got off with suspended prison sentences.
For now, says the paper, authorities are “giving the benefit of the doubt” to employers who have alleged “not to know the situation of their foreign workers”, or, when they have been aware of the slave-like conditions, have been known to take them food “because they realised the people were starving”.
Nonetheless, a source for the PJ has told the paper this is beginning to change. In November, for example, traffickers as well as the employer to whom 23 Nepalese were ‘contracted’ all faced criminal charges, though for the time being, jail terms are still few and very far between.