306. The Committee considered
the initial report of Brazil (CCPR/C/81/Add.6) at its 1506th to 1508th
meetings, on 10 and 11 July 1996 (see CCPR/C/SR.1506 to 1508). At its
1526th meeting, on 24 July 1996, the Committee adopted the following comments:
307. The Committee expresses
its appreciation to the State party for submitting an initial report that
was prepared in accordance with the reporting guidelines. The frankness
and comprehensiveness of the information contained in the report merit
special mention. Appreciation is also expressed for the introductory statement
delivered by the delegation, detailing steps taken by the State party
to give effect to the provisions of the Covenant after the report was
submitted. The Committee welcomed the candid manner in which the high-level
delegation responded to questions posed by Committee members. The exchange
of views with the delegation was constructive and fruitful, although the
Committee regrets that some of the questions raised during the examination
of the State party's report remained unanswered.
2. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
308. The enormous disparities in distribution of wealth between different
sections of the population would appear to be a major factor behind phenomena
described in the report that are incompatible with enjoyment of the most
basic rights protected under the Covenant.
3. Positive aspects
309. The Committee acknowledges
the Federal Government's commitment to adopt measures to enhance protection
of the rights provided for under the Covenant. It welcomes legislative
and other measures undertaken in recent years by the State party with
a view to strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.
In this regard, the Committee takes note of the recent ratification by
the State party of international and regional human rights instruments.
It also welcomes the launching of the National Human Rights Programme
through Decree No. 1904 of 13 May 1996, which is intended to accelerate
the process of respect and observance of human rights. The proposed initiatives
to restructure and strengthen the role of the Council for the Defence
of the Human Person (CDDPH) and the establishment of the Office of the
Public Defender as a means of facilitating public access to the judicial
system are noted with interest by the Committee. The Committee also supports
the measures being taken by the Federal Government that will allow the
Attorney General to bring cases of human rights violations to the Federal
system of justice.
4. Principal subjects of concern
310. With regard to the State
party's obligations under articles 2 and 50 of the Covenant, the Committee
is concerned that measures taken to ensure the implementation of Covenant
rights in all parts of the Federation remain ineffective and inadequate,
particularly in view of the vastness of the territory and the remoteness
of certain areas. It questions whether the Federal
Government has established
the necessary means to ensure that state and local governments in Brazil
will protect effectively Covenant rights.
311. The Committee is deeply
concerned by cases of summary and arbitrary executions committed by security
forces and by death squads, frequently involving members of security forces,
against individuals belonging to particularly vulnerable groups that include
street children, landless peasants, indigenous people and trade-union
312. The Committee also expresses
its deep concern over the prevalence of torture, arbitrary and unlawful
detention, death threats and acts of violence against prisoners committed
by security forces and in particular by the military police.
313. The Committee deplores
the fact that cases of summary and arbitrary executions, torture, death
threats, arbitrary and unlawful detention and violence against detainees
and other prisoners are seldom properly investigated and very frequently
go unpunished. Members of security forces implicated in gross human rights
violations enjoy a high level of impunity, which is incompatible with
314. The Committee is deeply
concerned with intolerable conditions in prisons and jails. Such conditions
include, first and foremost, overcrowding. The Committee deplores the
fact that some convicted persons are not released immediately at the end
of their imposed sentences and that fear of reprisals by prison authorities
or individual warders inhibits complaints by prisoners and detainees.
315. The Committee is concerned
over the practice of trying military police accused of human rights violations
before military courts and regrets that jurisdiction to deal with these
cases has not yet been transferred to the civilian courts.
316. The Committee is concerned
with threats against members of the judiciary that compromise the independence
and impartiality of the judiciary which is fundamental to the rights protected
under article 14 of the Covenant.
317. The Committee notes with
concern that where members of State security forces are accused of human
rights violations witnesses are not afforded protection against reprisals,
intimidation, threats and harassment.
318. The Committee expresses
its concern over the situation of women who, despite some improvements,
continue to be the subject of de jure and de facto discrimination,
including discrimination in access to the labour market. It shares the
concern of the State party that violence against women remains a major
problem to be more effectively addressed.
319. The Committee is concerned
about the widespread problem of forced labour and debt bondage, especially
in the rural areas. The grave problems of child labour and child prostitution
remain matters of deep concern of the Committee.
320. The Committee is particularly
concerned over the existence of racial and other discrimination against
black and indigenous persons. It notes that the Government has been pursuing
a process of demarcation of indigenous lands in Brazil as a means of addressing
the rights of the indigenous communities, but regrets that the process
is far from completion.
5. Suggestions and recommendations
321. The Committee urges the
State party to ensure that the provisions of the Covenant are fully implemented
in all parts of its territory in accordance with its obligations under
articles 2 and 50.
322. The Committee acknowledges
the Federal Government's commitment to ensuring that national legislation
is in full conformity with the provisions of the Covenant and trusts that
it will continue to give high priority to the adoption and implementation
of amendments to existing laws and the new legal codes proposed in order
to ensure compliance with the State party's international human rights
323. The Committee welcomes
the proposed bill (No. 4.716-A/94) defining torture as a specific crime
and the bill (PL 2801/92) that will transfer from the military to the
civilian system of justice the competence to try members of the military
police accused of human rights violations against civilians. It urges
the State party to ensure speedy enactment of these bills.
324. The Committee urges the
Government of Brazil to take immediate and effective steps to prevent
and combat human rights violations by members of the security forces,
especially cases of summary and arbitrary executions, torture, excessive
use of force and arbitrary detention. These steps should include the education
and sensitization of law enforcement officials, particularly the military
police, about human rights. Campaigns and programmes should be developed
accordingly and the systematic incorporation of human rights education
in all training activities ensured.
325. It is imperative that
stringent measures be adopted to address the issue of impunity by ensuring
that allegations of human rights violations are promptly and thoroughly
investigated, that the perpetrators are prosecuted, that appropriate punishments
be imposed on those convicted, and that victims be adequately compensated.
The State party should ensure that members of the security forces convicted
of serious offences be permanently removed from the forces and that those
members of the forces against whom allegations of such offences are being
investigated be suspended from their posts pending completion of the investigation.
326. Immediate steps should
be taken to ensure that convicted persons are released without delay on
completion of their sentences.
327. The Committee strongly
recommends that all complaints of misconduct by members of security forces
be investigated by an independent body and not by the security forces
themselves. Formal mechanisms for receipt and investigation of such complaints
should be established in all areas of the country and their existence
publicized. Such mechanisms must make provision for effective protection
of complainants and witnesses against intimidation and reprisals.
328. In light of the statement
in the State party's report that the general level of infant mortality
is still high the State party must strengthen measures to reduce that
329. The Committee recommends
that the State party continue its consideration of further ways to improve
the effectiveness of the judicial process. The Government should consider
the establishment of small claims courts and petty offences courts that
would help to reduce the backlog of cases pending before the courts.
330. The Committee stresses
the duty of the State party, under article 10 of the Covenant, to ensure
that all persons deprived of their liberty will be treated with humanity
and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. Given the information
provided in the State party's report about the intolerable conditions
of prisons and jails, especially as regards overcrowding, the State party
is under an obligation to adopt measures that will ensure compliance with
article 10. Measures to reduce overcrowding might include adoption of
alternative sentencing measures that would allow some convicted persons
to serve their sentences in the community. To the extent that overcrowding
cannot be solved by reducing the number of persons imprisoned or detained,
the State party is obligated to commit greater resources to enlarge the
capacity of the penitentiary system. Steps must also be taken to ensure
that effective programmes are in place for the social rehabilitation and
reformation of prison inmates.
331. The Committee strongly
recommends that regular training courses on human rights be held for lawyers,
prosecutors and judges.
332. The Committee recommends
adoption of legislation that will prohibit discrimination on all the grounds
covered by article 2 (1) of the Covenant. The provisions of domestic legislation
regulating the legal age of maturity in civil life and the right of every
citizen to have access to public service should be reviewed so as to ensure
their conformity with the relevant provisions of the Covenant, namely
articles 2 (1), 16 and 25.
333. The Committee is of the
opinion that the distinction between Brazilian-born and naturalized Brazilian
citizens, adopted in article 12 (3) of the Constitution as a criterion
of access to certain positions in public life, is incompatible with articles
2 and 25 of the Covenant and needs to be addressed accordingly by the
334. The Committee is of the
opinion that multiplicity of trade unions should be possible under the
law, as required by article 22 of the Covenant.
335. The Committee recommends
that the State party put in place effective enforcement mechanisms that
will ensure the implementation of Law No. 9.029 prohibiting the requirement
of pregnancy and sterilization certificates and other discriminatory practices
in employment. It urges that bill No. 382-B/91 concerning equality of
access to the labour market be adopted without further delay. The Committee
trusts that the proposals contained in the Brazilian National Human Rights
Plan, relating to the combating of violence against women, will be fully
implemented without delay.
336. The Committee urges the
State party to enforce laws prohibiting forced labour, child labour and
child prostitution and to implement programmes to prevent and combat such
human rights abuses. In addition, the Committee exhorts the State party
to establish more effective supervisory mechanisms to ensure compliance
with the provisions of national legislation and relevant international
standards. It is imperative that persons who are responsible for, or who
directly profit from, forced labour, child labour and child prostitution,
be severely punished under law.
337. The Committee recommends
that the State party take immediate steps to guarantee the rights of individuals
belonging to racial minorities and indigenous communities, especially
with regard to their access to quality health services and education.
Such steps should ensure greater school enrolment and reduce the incidence
of school drop-out. It is the view of the Committee that, in light of
article 27 of the Covenant, all necessary measures should be taken to
ensure that the process of demarcation of indigenous lands be speedily
and justly settled.
338. The Committee recommends
that the State party accede to both Optional Protocols to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.