During its 70th session (14 September – 02 October), the Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed the report of the State of Brazil, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in Armed Conflict (OPAC).
DCI’s section in Brazil (ANCED) had presented a stakeholders report to the CRC Committee in which heath, education, violence and especially juvenile justice issues were identified.
In its recommendations to the Committee, DCI-Brazil/ANCED particularly insisted on:
- Not lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old for certain crimes. This issue has gradually gained attention as the lower house of Brazil’s congress recently voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years of age for certain crimes. For more information, see the article in our previous newsletter.
- Legal assistance: adolescents involved with the justice system are often provided with legal assistance only after being formally charged. Hence, the adolescent is deprived of the presence of a lawyer at the time of evidence collection, including witness testimony, and his/her personal testimony.
- Education of children in detention: adolescents do not receive the necessary educational support while being detained, hence reducing their capabilities to reintegrate the schooling system once out of jail.
- Detention conditions: children incarcerated in Brazilian centers of deprivation of liberty face a series of hardships such as overcrowded and dirty cells, lack of separation with adult detainees, neglected healthcare, mistreatments and torture.
Combined efforts of DCI-Brazil and the International Secretariat proved worthy as the Committee, despite recognizing the numerous efforts made by Brazil, raised concerns on the aforementioned issues and consequently presented its recommendations.
In response to the Committee, the State delegation of Brazil expressed its willingness to improve its juvenile justice system, most notably through the establishment and implementation of various mechanisms and programs, which include, among others: the creation of new units dedicated to minor detainees; training sessions for professionals working with children and adolescents and creation of a national school for socio-education; conferences in states and municipalities with the participation of children and adolescents to take decisions; regular visits by anti-torture experts in detention units to ensure monitoring and prevention of torture and other ill treatments; developing additional specialized courts for children and strengthening hearing and complaints mechanisms.
In addition, the delegation of Brazil affirmed that “the Senate will not approve the amendment aiming to reduce the minimum age of criminal responsibility”. While welcoming this announcement, DCI will continue its advocacy and lobbying efforts, both at the national and international level, to ensure that the Brazilian government will put those words into action.