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Committee on the Rights of the Child examines report of Brazil

Committee on the Rights of the Child

22 September 2015

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Brazil on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as Brazil’s first report under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Presenting the report, Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop, Ambassador and the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the new Federal Constitution as well as the regulations in line with the Convention made Brazil a better place for children and adolescents, guaranteeing democratic freedoms and rights.

Over the years, Brazil had made significant progress in the areas of child mortality, prenatal quality, breastfeeding, vaccination, and HIV/AIDS.  For instance, Brazil had reduced under-five child mortality rate by two thirds, achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4 before the deadline set by the United Nations.  Also, the Government had initiated new healthcare policies and programmes to reach indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  Since 2003, 36 million Brazilians had been lifted out of extreme poverty as a result of many food and nutritional security policies.  With regard to education, the Government had increased its investment from 3.5 per cent to 5.6 per cent of the gross domestic product between 2000 and 2010.  Nevertheless, even with such progress, there were more than three million children out of school.  Among other achievements, Brazil had also reduced sub-civil birth registrations from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

Despite the progress made, Brazil still needed to work on improving the training of its police forces to combat violence against children.  Further, the increase in the number of teenage victims of homicide was a challenge. 

During the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts congratulated the Government for developing several programmes and policies directed to children and youth populations through a set of public actions at the municipal, State and federal level. The use of violence against children, fight against poverty, accessibility of civil registration, birth registration services, as well as the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict were the dominating topics.  With regard to children, the Government had established a national hotline as a channel of communication, measuring the problem of mistreatment of children and adolescents.  Being available in all Brazilian cities, such service also took on reports on other human rights violations such as human trafficking and missing children and adolescents.  On the issue of civil and birth registration, the Experts inquired about the accessibility of such services in the indigenous territories, which constituted 12 per cent of the country. 
 
Turning to the Optional Protocol, the delegation said that Brazil had been a pillar of stability in the region in respect of armed conflicts.  For more than 130 years, Brazil had not been involved in any armed conflict with neighbouring countries.  As the State party attached great importance to the issue, the National Congress had approved the Disarmament Statute, and applied the provisions of the Optional Protocol.  At the moment, Brazil did not have a problem of the involvement of children in armed conflict in the country.  If such a situation arose, the State party would take all necessary measures.

In concluding remarks, Sara De Jesus Oviedo Fierro, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that huge progress had been achieved by the State party.  In order to overcome the remaining challenges, nonetheless, much more needed to be done by the State party.  Noting the Committee’s particular concern about the juvenile justice, she hoped that the State party would take the recommendations into consideration.

Ms. Cordeiro Dunlop, in closing remarks, stated that Brazil had undertaken a number of initiatives to promote and protect the rights of the child.  The Government had undertaken relevant legislative and administrative policy measures for the protection of children and adolescents, while cooperating with all partners at the municipal, State, federal and international levels, including civil societies and the United Nations bodies. 

The delegation of Brazil included representatives from the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, House of Deputies, Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of Republic, Ministry of External Relations, National Council for the Rights of the Child and Adolescent, Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Defence.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 24 September, to consider the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of Chile (CRC/C/CHL/4-5).

Report

The combined second to fourth periodic report of Brazil (CRC/C/BRA/2-4) is available here.

Presentation of the Report

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP, Ambassador and the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that in 2015 Brazil was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, the main Brazilian law on the subject.  Despite existing challenges, Brazil was a better place for children and adolescents because of recent regulations.  The Federal Constitution, established in 1988, marked the start of the re-democratisation of the country, after two decades of a dictatorship that had ruptured the democratic order, violated human rights, and deepened social regional inequalities.  The current Constitution had created democratic freedoms, affirming economic, social and cultural rights of the Brazilian people.

Over the years, Brazil had advanced in reducing child mortality.  Between 1990 and 2012, the rates had fallen from 47.8 to 13.5 deaths per 1,000 new-borns, which was close to the level considered acceptable by the World Health Organization.  The objective had been achieved before the deadline set in the Millennium Development Goals.  In order to continue on the development path, Brazil sustained activities on reducing neonatal mortality in the most vulnerable families.  The country was actively monitoring pregnant women and there were incentives for exclusive breastfeeding until the sixth month. The healthcare network for pregnant women was constantly improving.  In addition, there were policies to reach indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  Vaccination coverage rates continued to grow, and the number of HIV/AIDS cases had gone down remarkably.  Nonetheless, new cases in boys from the age of 15 to 19 still remained a challenge to overcome.

Since 2003, 36 million Brazilians had been lifted out of extreme poverty, 22 million of whom over the previous four years.  Children were at the centre of the policies to overcome the problem.  The cash transfers in the Family Stipend Program were determined by the number of children in each family, and conditioned on school attendance and regular health consultations.  In 2012, a programme called “Affectionate Brazil” had been launched, benefiting two million households with children under six years of age.  The programme had also lifted 8.1 million children and adolescents, along with their families, out of extreme poverty.  As of 2015, 16.5 million people had benefited from the programme.

Brazil had 49.8 million students, of whom 81.7 per cent were enrolled in public and free schools, comprising kindergartens, day-care centres, preschools, elementary and high schools.  Since 2009, education was compulsory between the ages of 4 and 17.  Nevertheless, even with such progress, there were more than three million children out of school across the country.  One of the biggest achievements in the past few years had been the reduction in sub-civil birth registrations from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.  Furthermore, between 1992 and 2013, Brazil had reduced its child labour rate from 13.6 per cent to 3.3 per cent for children until the age of 15.  Education was critical as children enrolled in school were less likely to engage in work before the appropriate age.

Brazil had enhanced its legislation to tackle impunity related to crimes against children,  It had also improved its ability to punish the networks of sexual exploitation of children.  There was a direct helpline for receiving complaints and forwarding protection measures, which was available 24/7.  However, Brazil still had to work on improving the training of its police forces to combat such crimes, as well as their ability to integrate data and information related to violations against children and adolescents.
The criminalisation of violent or arbitrary actions committed by State agents against children and adolescents was clearly defined in the Brazilian criminal law.  In 2010, the Federal Government had established new guidelines, aiming at reducing police brutality.  The increase in the number of teenage victims of homicide was a challenge.  The victims were mostly “poor black boys”, who lived in the suburbs and metropolitan areas of large cities.  The homicide rate for those teenagers was almost four times higher than for white teenagers.  Accordingly, a national pact for homicide reduction had been initiated as an integrated set of actions with the participation of the Federal Government and municipalities.

Questions by Experts
 
HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that the statement delivered by the head of delegation had answered many questions in advance.

With regard to general application measures, she noted that the State party had ratified many international human rights treaties. What were the intentions of the State party regarding the Third Optional Protocol, and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families?  What was the status of the Convention in the country? Was there a conflict with domestic law?

What measures were taken to ensure that the legislation was effective in protecting and the promoting children’s rights?

On the data collection, the Expert noted that there had been significant improvement.  Despite progress, there were still gaps in collecting data with regard to populations living in riverside areas, quilombolas, and remote regions.  What kind of measures were undertaken by the Government  to overcome the challenge?

On the Convention, she inquired about the past and ongoing public awareness programmes and activities, including campaigns conducted by Brazil to ensure that all communities, in particular children and their families, were adequately informed about the Convention.

Regarding children in private sector, what kind of measures had been undertaken to monitor the private sector and civil society for the implementation of effective plans to fight children’s rights violations?

There were persistent forms of discrimination based on gender against
children with different sexual orientation.  What did the State party intend to do in order to better combat such forms of discrimination?

What were the measures taken by the State party to ensure that its immigration laws upheld the principle of the best interests of the child, the Expert inquired.

Brazil had high levels of homicide.  What measures were taken to fight against such crime targeting young children?

One Expert acknowledged that Brazil had reduced sub-civil birth registration from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent.  The next step was to reach out the remaining five per cent.  How would the State party deal with those excluded people?

Another Expert inquired what the State party had done to ensure the full participation of children and adolescents in discussion forums related to the rights of children and adolescents.  Further, had all staff working with children been provided with enough training?
It was true that violence against children was prohibited under the current laws.  Did the Government fully implement its legislation in particular with regard to effective measures to combat impunity?

An Expert wanted to know more about the “help line”, and whether all children could use such mechanism free of charge to complain about all sorts of human rights violations.

Had the State party taken legislative, programmatic and/or training measures to ensure the adequate enforcement of the Penal Code with regard to injuries or the death of children resulting from the use of force by State agents?

Replies by the Delegation
 
Regarding general measures, a delegate said that the Policy for the Promotion of Children and Adolescents’ Rights was based on a human rights perspective.  The strategy had articulated several sectorial policies directed to children and youth populations through a set of public actions within the scope of the Federal Government, States, the Federal District and municipalities. The three levels of Government shared responsibilities and legal obligations.  National guidelines based on the ten-year plan and the sectorial plans were replicated and developed taking into consideration the specificity of States and cities.

Brazil held regular meetings dealing with children and adolescents at the municipal, state and federal level.  There was a constant attempt to ensure children’s permanent participation in the discussions.  The Government had instituted the National Policy of Social Participation and the National System of Social Participation, guaranteeing permanent proceedings for dialogue as well as the incentives to the participation of civil society representatives in the development, implementation and monitoring of public policies.  Such a system also enabled the participation of children and adolescents. 

With regard to questions on budget, the delegation noted that a number of countries worldwide had been dealing with the economic crisis.  Brazil had not been able to develop a concept for a budget solely focusing on children.  However, it was worth noticing that the amount invested in the area had grown over the years.

Since 2004, Brazil had improved its ability to collect data in the areas of health, education, and social care.  The national data collection system on child mortality had gathered significant data.

Social assistance had developed over the years.  All social policies were registered within the system, collecting data annually.  Brazilian social assistance policy was divided into Basic Social Protection (PSB) and Special Social Protection (PSE).  The goal of the former was to prevent situations of risk involving families by strengthening family and community ties.  The latter was applied in situations where the violation of rights had been already identified, contributing to the reconstruction of family and community ties, as well as the protection of rights.

The Government and local authorities had conducted public consultations in order to ensure citizen participation.  Information was made available to everyone to make edits on the content, to disseminate information, and make complaints if they wished to do so. 

The delegation stated that, over the previous years, the participative experiences of children and adolescents were reinforced.  The initiative called Budget and Active Participation Adolescent Network of Fortaleza/Ceará had been developed with the support of the non-governmental organization Cipó, whose proposal was to monitor policies for children and adolescents.  Another good example was the Plenarinho, an initiative from the Brazilian Parliament, which annually put together bill proposals from children and adolescents from the entire country in a contest, whose winner was formally presented as a bill in the National Congress.

In 2015, Brazil had commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, the main Brazilian law in the area.  There were awareness-raising events, campaigns, meetings round-table discussions in schools and other institutions at the municipal and state level.

The freedom of speech was a right enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution, the delegation stressed.  Free and unhindered manifestation of thought in any form was also a written guarantee, which determined the freedom of speech for intellectual, artistic, scientific and communicative purposes.  The legislation defined the guarantee of freedom of speech for children and adolescents.  That right encompassed, among others, opinion, expression and participation in the political life.

Questions by Experts
 
With regard to family environment, an Expert said that Brazil put children in shelter due to poverty.  How many children were still in such institutions? What kind of programmes did the Government have to support those children?  What were the main limitations to implement effective policies?

Another Expert underlined the lack of statistic data on domestic and inter-country adoption in Brazil.  She inquired if the Government had enough human and financial resources to collect statistical data and relevant information on both domestic and inter-country adoption.

What was the magnitude of the problem with regards to child trafficking? What had the Government done to protect the victims, and what were the punishment measures?

On the subject of children with disabilities, the Expert noted that there was no data on any Government programmes.  She inquired if there were measures undertaken to prevent children from being taken away from their parents due to their health problems?  Were those children involved in the decisions concerning them?  Were there any awareness-raising or training initiatives to address social prejudice towards children with disabilities?

Did the State party have enough health personnel in hospitals?  Were they working mainly in private or public hospitals?  Did the health professionals have regular trainings?

Question was asked on what the main strategies were to reduce child mortality in Brazil.  What were the initiatives to broaden family health, breastfeeding, access to vaccination, and raise the mother’s educational level?

In relation to disparities in access to education, an Expert inquired what measures were taken to ensure that such a gap was bridged.  How were the education standards controlled, especially for public schools?

Answers by the Delegation
 
The delegation informed that one of the biggest achievements had been the reduction in the sub-civil birth registration from 44 per cent to 5.1 per cent, thus being close to eradication.  The Government was aiming to reach the excluded people, especially indigenous children and children living in isolated and remote areas.  Accordingly, municipal workshops were organized for the public in order to raise awareness in the areas of birth registration.

The law clearly stated that each municipality provided free birth certificates.  The efforts to universalize the civil and birth registration in the states of the “Legal Amazon” and the Northeast Region of Brazil involved partnerships to implement awareness campaigns and orientation.  In addition, there were trainings of social rights agents, the establishment of registration task forces for the provision of civil birth certificates, and the implementation of civil birth registration units in local maternities.

In 2011, Brazil had launched the National Plan of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the main strategy to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, with an estimated budget of R$ 7.6 billion.  A total of 25 States, the Federal District and approximately 1,406 cities had joined the Plan thus far.  The implementation of the Plan, in addition to the initiatives aimed at strengthening councils adopted since 2011, had resulted in the dissemination of Disabilities Rights Councils at the State and municipal level, with numbers rising from a little more than 200 to approximately 600 councils.

With regard to indigenous populations, a delegate noted that 12 per cent of the Brazilian territory was marked as indigenous areas.  Since April 2012, the ethnicity might be included in the civil birth certificate of indigenous children, upon request of their parents.  In the birth certificate, it was possible to include the information that the child was an indigenous person, as well as its respective people or ethnicity.

A federal law prohibited the use of violence against children.  The Government was preparing a campaign to provide guidance to the parents and working on the implementation.  An important tool for measuring the problem of mistreatment of children and adolescents was the national hotline, a service that had become a channel for communication, recording and referral of violations.  The service was a direct dial toll-free number, available across Brazil.  Once a violation was reported, local networks were triggered to care for the victim and to ensure the aggressor’s liability. It had been created in 1997, under the coordination of the Brazilian Multi-Disciplinary Association for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and turned over to the Federal Government in 2003.

The delegation said that the hotline also took on reports on other human rights violations, such as human trafficking and missing children and adolescents.  Since 2006, there was a specialized kind of hearing directed to children and adolescents, as well as possible aggressors.  The service also provided information on the protection network and the work of guardianship councils.  Received reports were sent to the relevant authorities within 24 hours, while the callers’ identities were kept anonymous.

The Inter-Sectorial Committee, with financial and technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund, had created a referential set of indicators that mapped the phenomenon of sexual violence in Brazil.  Based on that set of indicators, the programme “Integrated and Referential Actions to Combat Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents in the Brazilian Territory”  had started to finance projects for the diagnosis and elaboration of local operational plans in the most affected municipalities.

It was added that the programme had proposed a series of stages for the formulation of articulated and inter-sectorial public policies to end sexual violence against children and adolescents, founded on the empowerment of local protection networks.  The methodologies applied included the political articulation of each city, the qualification of protection networks, as well as the monitoring of the actions recommended in State and local plans to end sexual violence against children and adolescents.  In 2009, that experience had been replicated in 15 twin cities of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, through a strategy entitled PAIR MERCOSUL, directed to the prevention and control of the trafficking of children and adolescents for sexual purposes in border regions.

The delegation explained that "act of resistance" was an administrative term used by the judicial police to refer to the investigation of deaths and injuries caused by police officers when the victim had resisted.  Such instrument used to applied based on the sole description of events provided by police officers, which allowed for the cover up of homicides.  In that sense, it was expected that the end of the "act of resistance" would represent a great step towards the protection of the rights of children and adolescents victims of police violence.

With regard to training initiatives, Brazilian police officers were submitted to continued education throughout their career.  The National Public Security Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice had developed several actions involving issues related to public security and crimes against children and adolescents.  A set of classroom training actions had been developed in the previous three years, dealing particularly with the crime of sexual exploitation.

Follow-Up Questions by Experts
 
An Expert asked about the parameters to allow sterilisation of children with disabilities

On the inclusive education, another Expert inquired what percentage of children with disabilities were provided with schooling.

What kind of measures were taken by the Government to prevent sexual violence against children?  What prevention system was available to children to protect themselves from potential perpetrators?

Question was asked about measures taken to investigate and prosecute members of armed and police forces due to allegations of violence against children?

The Government had not ratified the International Labour Organization’s Maternity Protection Convention of 2000.  Was the State party intending to ratify that document?

Could the delegation provide more details about the continuing efforts to improve the system of juvenile justice in all States of the federation in line with the Convention?

What measures had been taken to ensure that the recent football World Cup had not negatively impacted children’s rights?

An Expert asked about measures taken to improve the accessibility of civil registration and birth registration services in the indigenous territories.  Were the personnel providing such services provided with training on the sociocultural traditions regarding birth registration for indigenous people?

Replies by the Delegation
 
Incarcerated mothers enjoyed access to medical services, and all other measures necessary for a healthy pregnancy with no risks to the child were also provided. 

On the health care of adolescents,  measures had been introduced to guarantee basic assistance, in addition to hospitalization and specialized tests.  However, the access to primary health care for those living in remote areas was a remaining challenge.

With regard to the question on public-private health care, a delegate noted that 75 per cent of the services were provided by the public health institutions, while the remaining 25 per cent provided by private institutions.

Follow-up Questions by Experts
 
An Expert acknowledged that Brazil had reduced its child labour rate significantly.  What other measures had the State party taken to eliminate child labour completely?

Brazil was facing numerous financial challenges.  What were the impacts of the budget cuts on the national education system?

Replies by the Delegation
 
In 2011, Brazil had launched a campaign to mobilise companies to fight exploitation of children.  The Government had also initiated nation-wide events, focusing on awareness raising on the issue.

On the questions related to adoption, a delegate said first, all the resources for reintegration in the family had to be exhausted and transparency in the procedures of the cases had to be ensured.  Two national registries had been created: one for children and adolescents available for adoption and one for people interested in adopting. The priority was the adoption within the national territory.  The single national registry allowed monitoring and supervising of the system of national and international adoption of children and adolescents, under the light of the article 21 of the Convention.  While the number of national adoptions was around 6,000 per year, such number was much lower for international adoptions, being only 100 per year. 

Regarding migrant children and adolescents, the delegation said that paradigmatic changes in the national normative outline on migrations were in course.  A new migration law was in the process of being approved by the National Congress.  The future law would fully protect the rights of migrant children and adolescents.  Its text was currently in the final negotiation stage.

Turning to the subject of health, a delegate said the Government had experienced problems accessing indigenous populations living in remote areas. 

On suicide prevention and protection actions, the Government had established initiatives to provide psycho-social support to families and communities, particularly those with a history of suicide attempts and alcohol and drug abuse.  To prevent suicide in indigenous communities, the Government was trying to identify tribes and develop new techniques more suitable to such communities.

The percentage of disabled children enrolled in public schools was 97 per cent.  Children with hearing disabilities did not consider themselves as “disabled” but as “deaf”.  It was their personal choice to go to public schools instead of schools solely for disabled children.  In addition, the Brazilian law acknowledged the sign language as an official language.

Turning to the policies initiated on adolescents in conflict with the law, a delegate said that the Government had established a national school to train professionals to work with young people.  In the State party, juvenile justice was good enough, but the Government needed more resources to make improvements.

The best interest of the child was set out in article 277 of the Brazilian Constitution as the principle of absolute priority, defining that it was the duty of the family, the society and the State to ensure the right to life, health, nutrition, education, sports, leisure, professional training, culture, dignity, respect, freedom, family and community living for the child and the adolescent.  The absolute priority of the child had also been recognized in the Brazilian jurisprudence, and the public administration was prohibited from claiming lack of funds to implement the rights of children and adolescents.
Follow-Up questions by Experts
 
An Expert inquired whether the periodic report had been discussed in the national level before its submission the Committee.

The Committee was concerned about the lack of definition on the direct participation of children in armed conflict in the Brazilian Constitution.  What measures would the State party take to overcome that problem?

With regard to the implementation of the Optional Protocol, an Expert asked whether measures undertaken by the Government had worked efficiently.

Noting that Brazil was the fourth biggest exporter of arms, an Expert inquired whether there was a relevant legislation preventing children from having access to fire arms.

How was the quality of detention facilities provided for minors in conflict with the law?  What was the average length of pre-trial detention?

Replies by the Delegation
 
The delegation explained that the Federal Constitution and the Labour Code protected children against economic exploitation, including child labour.  The law forbade the Government from hiring entities that exploited child labour.  Several Brazilian socio-cultural factors might contribute to the occurrence of child labour, such as low family income associated with high levels of unemployment, as well as a view of early participation in work as a fundamental principle for the formation of the individual.

To prevent child labour, the Government had taken several actions, including extension of the school day, introduction of complementary activities to the school schedule, inspection for the eradication of child labour, upgrading the focus map of child labour, supervision of work conditions of adolescents as apprentices, and integration of their families in cash transfer and income generation programmes.

Other initiatives had been launched to address the issue of child labour.  The relevant initiatives included qualitative studies, production of graphical and audio-visual material on child domestic labour and in agriculture, identification of successful experiences, construction of a methodology of intervention, and the development of new instruments for controlling conditions in the concession of social benefits.

The project “Proteja Brasil” was a set of inter-sectorial and inter-institutional actions implemented at the federal, State, municipal and Federal District levels.  The project aimed at preventing and intervening in situations that represented threats to the rights of children and adolescents resulting from mega events.  The initiative had brought together actions of Governments, the justice system, social responsibility of the private sector and civil society for the implementation of effective plans to fight children’s rights violations during the Confederation Cup of 2013, the World Cup of 2014, the Olympic Games of 2016 and other similar events hosted by Brazil.

To protect the rights of persons between the age of 12 and 18 deprived of their liberty, and to improve their conditions of detention and imprisonment, the Government had established special institutions with conditions suitable to their age.   However, children above the age of 18 were sent to the adult prison if they committed a crime.

Questions by Experts

One Expert asked whether the Government had done any research on the street children and evaluated their situation.
Another Expert asked about the difference between the military schools and military preparatory schools.  Were the training materials and manuals used in those education programmes provided to students below the age of 18? Were girls allowed to both schools?

Were students enrolled in those institutions trained in the use of firearms?  What were the measures taken by the Government to prevent children from obtaining access to firearms?

An Expert inquired about the procedure of research and investigation with regard to violations resulting in the death of people.

It was noted that the admission process of asylum seekers took from six months to three years.  What kind of measures had the State party taken to ensure that the process was as child friendly as possible?

Replies by the Delegation

The situation of street children in Brazil was very different than two decades earlier.  The Brazilian Government had created a national policy that protected the right of the child to family and community care.  Brazil had a strong and active civil society movement that promoted a lot of advocacy and the creation of targeted policies.  Accordingly,  the Government had been working with the civil society, creating outreach programmes and serving several services such as food assistance, medical check and medication.

On maternity kidnapping and prevention measures, a delegate said the Government had no specific policy targeting the issue.  However, there were a very few kidnapping cases in Brazil.

In conformity with the principles of defence of peace and peaceful solution of conflicts, Brazil had been a pillar of stability in the region in respect of armed conflicts.  For more than 130 years, Brazil had not been involved in any armed conflict with neighbouring countries, namely, since the end of the Paraguayan War in 1870.  Today, the countries involved in that conflict were partners in the Mercosur integration process.  Not being currently involved in any international or internal armed conflict, Brazil had endeavoured to contribute to international peace and security by participating in peace maintenance operations under mandates defined by the pertinent international organizations.

Military service in Brazil had been traditionally compulsory. Since the 1891 Constitution, this obligatory requirement had been constitutionally regulated.  The military service legislation required that all Brazilian males had to register in the year when they reached the age of 18, and joined the Armed Forces in the year when they reached the age of 19.  Accordingly, under no circumstances, a person under 18 years old could be recruited by the armed forces.

Article 143, paragraph 2 of the Constitution also exempted women and clergymen from the compulsory military service.  However, there were various possibilities for women to pursue a military career, after passing a higher-education level public competitive examination.  Alternatively, they could serve as temporary members of the military, as technical or higher-education level trainees.  In all cases, enlistment was voluntary and women under 18 were not admitted.  Therefore, the application of Optional Protocol provisions in Brazil referred to male individuals.

With respect to educational institutions under the control of the Armed Forces in Brazil, it was important to distinguish, in connection with the Optional Protocol, between military schools and Military preparatory schools.  Military school students were not members of the military and they did not receive military training.  Further, they might leave school at any time they wish, and were not under the obligation to follow a military career.
Military preparatory schools, on the other hand, prepared cadets or officer candidates for entering the Armed Forces’ officers training academies, and sought to motivate students for a military career and enthusiasm for their respective Force.  They operated on a boarding-school system and offered secondary education and military instruction compatible with reservist training, in addition to the practice of sports.  Enrolment in those schools was voluntary and open only to male candidates.  To be admitted, students had to pass clear selective procedures that involved intellectual tests, health examinations, and physical and psychological aptitude tests.
 
Follow-up Questions by Experts
 
What kind of trainings were available to the peace maintenance personal?   Did the Government engage in partnerships with local and international actors in that regard?

What was the procedure of internalizing an international treaty?

Replies by the Delegation

As regards the measures adopted for the training of peace maintenance personnel in respect of the rights of the child, including the Optional Protocol provisions, all Brazilian troops participating in peace maintenance operations received prior training in the norms of the International Human Rights Law, the International Humanitarian Law, and the United Nations Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets.  During the training, emphasis was laid on the protection of the rights of children.  The Ministry of Defence had worked in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross to strengthen and consolidate the training in the International Humanitarian Law, not only of contingents sent to peacekeeping missions but of the Armed Forces in general.

Brazil's National Congress approved the Disarmament Statute and applied the provisions of the Optional Protocol.  At the moment, Brazil did not have a problem of the “involvement of children in armed conflict”.  If such situation arose in the country, the State party would apply the provisions and take all necessary measures.

A delegate noted that students in the Navy, Air Force and the Army were trained in the use of firearms, which included instructions on handling rifles and portable firearms.  Students below the age of 18 did not take part in service requiring the use of firearms.  However, since they were legally incorporated in the Brazilian Army, they were supposed to receive military training.       


Concluding Remarks

SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Brazil, said that huge progress had been achieved by the State party, and Brazil answered to all the questions posed by the Committee Experts.  However, more needed to be done to overcome remaining challenges.  The Committee was particularly concerned about the juvenile justice, and the Experts hoped that the State party would take the recommendations into consideration.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP, Ambassador to the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva, thanked the Committee Experts for their questions and comments.  Brazil had undertaken a number of initiatives to promote and protect the rights of the child.  The Government had undertaken relevant legislative and administrative policy measures for the protection of children and adolescents.  While doing so, the Government had cooperated with all partners at the municipal, State, federal and international levels, including civil societies and the United Nations bodies.  Brazil attached great importance to the Convention and its Optional Protocol.

BENYAM DAWIT MEYMUR, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the State party representatives for their detailed answers to the questions.  Encouraging Brazil to ratify the Third Optional Protocol, Mr. Meymur said that he looked forward to receiving the upcoming reports, and sent his best wishes to the children of Brazil.
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