• Press Release

Brazil: Shocking U-Turn on Vote Against Lowering Age of Criminal Responsibility

July 2, 2015

A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.

Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.

"The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

"By seeking to try thousands of vulnerable teenagers as adults, the Brazilian authorities are undermining the rights of one of the most marginalized groups in society. Instead of working out ways to prosecute teenagers as adults, Congress should be focusing on upholding children’s rights, including their right to education, health and a life free from violence."

Brazil’s prison system is one of the most violent in the world, marked by horrendous violence and abuse. The proposed legislation violates a range of international standards that require special provisions for treating children in the justice system, including the separation of children from adults in prisons.

According to Brazil's National Public Safety Department, young people aged between 16 and 18 commit just 0.9% of all crimes in the country. Meanwhile, the most recent homicide data shows that 10 teenagers between 16 and 17 are killed every day.

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Brazil: Lowering age of adult criminal responsibility will consign children to “medieval” prison system