BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Dozens of Brazilian workers were found in slave-like conditions on a senator's ranch on Thursday, the Labor Ministry said, as Congress debated a bill to confiscate the land of such employers.
The discovery of the 32 workers on the ranch of Senator Joao Ribeiro of the right-wing PFL party came two weeks after four Labor Ministry officials investigating slavery elsewhere were shot dead. The killings prompted efforts to speed up passage of the legislation.
The workers were not allowed to leave Ribeiro's ranch in the state of Para in northern Brazil. They worked seven days a week and received no pay, and had no running water or toilets.
Their income went to cover the cost of providing them with food, the Labor Ministry said.
A spokesman for Ribeiro said he was recovering from medical treatment and was unable to comment.
Brazil's Congress is debating a bill to confiscate the land of ranchers who hold such modern-day slaves and give it to some of the 180,000 families waiting in makeshift camps across Brazil for redistributed land.
Brazilians found holding workers in slave-like conditions currently face a fine of 314 reais ($108) per worker and are cut off from state loans.
It has been estimated there are some 25,000 modern-day slaves in Brazil, mostly in isolated parts of the countryside where powerful landowners hold sway.
Brazil imported more African slaves than any other country in the Americas before abolishing the practice in 1888. ($1-2.9 reais)
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