OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee
considered the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic
reports of Brazil submitted in a single document (CERD/C/263/Add.10),
at its 1157th, 1158th and 1159th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1157-1159),
on 5 August and 6 August 1996. At its 1177th meeting, on
19 August 1996, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the resumption of the dialogue with the Government
of Brazil after a nine-year break. It expresses its satisfaction
to the State party for the frankness of its report and the
explanations provided by the delegation. However, it regrets
that the report submitted contains little specific information
on the implementation of the Convention in practice. In
this connection, the Committee takes note of the delegation's
statement that the State party is ready to continue the
dialogue in the near future and to provide it with fuller
information on the measures taken to give effect to the
3. The Committee
notes that the State party has not made the declaration
provided for by article 14 of the Convention; some members
of the Committee requested that it should consider the possibility
of doing so.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the
implementation of the Convention
4. The Committee
recognizes that Brazil is a country with a very sizeable
geographical area and population and that, during the past
decade, it has undergone far-reaching political, economic
and social changes. In spite of numerous structural, political,
economic and social reforms, the authorities have not managed
to control endemic poverty, thus exacerbating the social
inequalities affecting the black, indigenous and mestizo
populations in particular, and encouraging the emergence
of a culture of violence.
C. Positive aspects
5. The recent
legislative and institutional measures taken by the Government
of Brazil to bring national legislation more into line with
the Convention and to improve protection of the fundamental
rights of the most vulnerable communities are welcomed.
In this connection, the Committee takes particular note
of the adoption of the new Constitution in 1988 and the
recent establishment of a human rights commission, an inter-ministerial
working group for the promotion of the black population
and a ministry of agrarian reform and the promulgation of
a national human rights plan. The creation, on an experimental
basis, of a police station to deal specially with cases
of racial discrimination should also be highlighted.
6. The determination
expressed by the delegation to ratify shortly ILO Convention
No. 169 concerning indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent
Countries is a step forward which the Committee hopes Brazil
will take as soon as possible.
7. Active participation
by members of society at large in drafting the State party's
report is a welcome development, as is the determination
expressed by the Brazilian authorities to disseminate widely
the report and the Committee's concluding observations.
D. Principal subjects of concern
8. The statistical
and qualitative information on the demographic composition
of Brazil's population and on the enjoyment of political,
economic, social and cultural rights provided in the State
party's report clearly show that the indigenous, black and
mestizo communities suffer from deep structural inequalities
and that the measures taken by the Government effectively
to combat those disparities are still insufficient.
9. The Committee
notes that the report contains no information on the "indicators"
of the particular social difficulties encountered by the
most vulnerable populations, especially the indigenous,
black and mestizo populations.
10. A number
of sources of information concur that discriminatory attitudes
towards the indigenous, black and mestizo populations persist
within Brazilian society and are apparent at a number of
levels in the political, economic and social life of the
country. These discriminatory attitudes concern,
the right to life and security of person, political participation,
access to education
and employment, access to basic public services, the right
to health, the right to decent housing, land ownership,
land use and law enforcement.
concern is expressed about the fate of the most vulnerable
populations, in particular indigenous people, blacks and
the implementation of article 2 of the Convention, the Committee
notes with concern the slow pace of certain legislative
reforms, in particular the reform of the Criminal Code.
The Committee notes with concern the maintenance of article
6 of the 1916 Civil Code of Brazil, containing a discriminatory
restriction on the exercise of civil rights by the indigenous
populations which is contrary to 1988 Constitution of Brazil,
although according to the explanations of the representative
of Brazil this provision has become obsolete.
13. The fact
that illiterate citizens, who are found especially among
the indigenous, black or mestizo population, or other vulnerable
groups, cannot be elected in political elections is contrary
to the spirit of article 5 (c) of the Convention.
note is taken of the fact that the indigenous populations
encounter serious discrimination in regard to enjoyment
of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural
rights. Special concern is expressed about the unfair treatment
of the indigenous populations during land demarcation and
distribution, the violent and unlawful means used to settle
numerous land disputes and the violence and intimidation
used against them by private militias and even occasionally
by members of the military police. Concern is also expressed
about their social protection and the discrimination they
suffer in the spheres of health, education, culture, employment,
access to public office and housing.
the implementation of article 6 of the Convention, the Committee
notes with regret that the information provided on cases
in which judicial remedies were exercised by the victims
of acts of racial discrimination was insufficient and did
not allow a proper assessment to be made.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
16. The Committee
hopes that the State party will continue and strengthen
its efforts to improve the effectiveness of measures and
programmes designed to ensure that all groups of the population
fully enjoy their political, economic, social and cultural
rights. The Committee also recommends that the State party
devote due attention to developing programmes to foster
awareness of human rights and of the need for tolerance,
in order to prevent social and racial discrimination and
17. The Committee
requests the Government of Brazil to provide, in its next
periodic report, precise information and "indicators"
on the social difficulties encountered by the indigenous
black and mestizo populations, and in particular on rates
of unemployment, imprisonment, alcoholism, drug use, delinquency
and suicide. The Committee also draws the State party's
attention to the need to devise "indicators" to
assess policies and programmes for protecting and promoting
the rights of the vulnerable populations.
18. The Committee
recommends that the State party should do everything possible
to speed up the current legislative reforms and, more specifically,
to amend article 6 of 1916 Civil Code of Brazil, which is
contrary to its 1988 Constitution. The State party should
also take measures to allow illiterate citizens from the
most underprivileged population groups to be elected in
19. The Committee
recommends that the Government of Brazil put more vigorously
into practice its determination to defend the fundamental
rights of indigenous people, blacks, mestizos and members
of other vulnerable groups, who are regularly the victims
of serious intimidation and violence, sometimes leading
to their death. It hopes that the authorities concerned
will systematically prosecute those guilty of such crimes,
whether they are members of private militias or State officials,
and will take effective preventive measures, especially
through training for the members of the military police.
In addition, the State party should ensure that the victims
of such acts receive compensation and are rehabilitated.
20. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party should adopt fair
and equitable solutions for the demarcation, distribution
and restitution of land. To that end, where land disputes
are concerned, everything possible should be done to prevent
discrimination against indigenous people, blacks or mestizos
by the big landowners.
21. The Committee
encourages the State party to ratify ILO Convention No.
169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent
22. The Committee
recommends that the next periodic report of Brazil contain
detailed information on complaints filed by the victims
of acts of racial discrimination and on how they were dealt
with by the courts.
23. The Committee
recommends that the State party give nationwide publicity
to its thirteenth periodic report and the Committee's concluding
24. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify at its earliest convenience
the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention
which were adopted by the 14th meeting of State parties.
25. The Committee
recommends that the State party's next periodic report,
which is due on 4 January 1998, contain an update of the
previous report and focus on all the points raised in the
present concluding observations.