In Brazil, juvenile justice is governed by Federal Act 8069. This act gave rise to the Statute for the Child and Adolescent, which provides better protection for children, and which encourages the application of adopted measures. The age of criminal liability in Brazil has been set at 12 years of age (13 years in France). This law on juvenile justice also defines: Deprivation of liberty as a last resort The rights of children deprived of liberty Legal obligations towards children in detention centres Different socio-educational measures Despite progress in the area of juvenile justice in Brazil, the socio-political context is more complex than it appears. Deprivation of liberty trumps other measures for rehabilitation of adolescents in conflict with the law, even when the offense a minor one. The Special Secretariat for Human Rights in Brazil noted that 13,489 adolescents were imprisoned in 2004 and 16,528 in 2007. (source: Regional Hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights : “Situation of children and adolescents in conflict with the law in MERCOSUR countries” from 15 to 31/10/2008.)
BICE acts for restorative justice
Since 1987, the Pastoral do Menor (PDM) association has run projects and activities, with and on behalf of 3000 underprivileged children and adolescents in the Nordeste State.
In Fortaleza, BICE and the PDM provide support for adolescents in their last months of detention, in order to help them prepare their release and assist with social and familial reintegration.
In order to help these adolescents build a future, we provide workshops on self-confidence, family relations, citizenship, and community support networks.
A volunteer from the youth’s family circle becomes his contact, and assists him in his reintegration. The adolescent also receives personalized support from the pyschologist and teachers from the Centre and his contact person.
The aim is to reduce the chances of recidivism and to assist youths in constructing their future.
As part of the “Childhood without bars” programme, the PDM also organizes campaigns to raise awareness of juvenile justice and children’s rights. It provides monitoring and consulting services to state prisons in Cearà State.
Activities in Brazil
- Psycho-social support for youths in conflict with the law, and legal aid for youths whose rights have been violated during the legal process.
- Home visits and meetings with families of youths in conflict with the law
- Community meetings on the theme of children’s rights
- Meetings with the Department of Labour and Social Development, to promote collaboration between civil society and public authorities.
- Presentation of an analysis of the socio-educational system in open institutions
- Follow-up and evaluation of living conditions in closed detention centres in collaboration with civil society, to promote respect for children’s rights.
- Participation at meetings with the State Working Group on public policies for a juvenile justice system
- Workshops for members of the legal profession, on the application of laws on juvenile justice
- Workshops on children’s rights held with representatives of the media, in collaboration with the Minister for Justice
- Organization of awareness campaigns with the participation of radio stations, creation of a radio commercial and a video on the criminalization of children.
Key figures per year
- 60 adolescents in conflict with the law
- 130 members of the family circle of minors (parents, teachers, communities…)
- 20 members of the juvenile justice system (judges, personnel, judicial police …)
- 30 social workers from closed detention centres
- 50 members of the media informed about juvenile justice (radios, television, written press…)