UPR of Brazil: humble about its progress, Brazil is however proud of its achievements
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 10:34


On Friday 24 May, the working group on the UPR examined the human rights situation in Brazil. The session came in the midst of much praise regarding the achievement of numerous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as in the run up to the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.


The thirty-six member delegation, headed by Ms Maria do Rosário Nunes, Minister of State of Brazil, was formed by representatives from a wide range of governmental departments. Ms Nunes opened the session with an impassioned speech on Brazil’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights as an integral part of the Constitution, and a priority as the country is on its way to achieving all the MDGs by 2015. She particularly noted that unemployment, as well as income and gender inequality, are dropping, helped by numerous State programs such as the subsidy driven initiative ‘Brazil without Poverty’. The delegation also noted the establishment of the truth commission and the Law on Access to Information. Ms Nunes emphasised Brazil’s pride at being led by a woman and how the State strives to combine human rights and human development in a complementary way. However, challenges were openly acknowledged, including those regarding violence against women as well as those arising with regards to urbanisation and indigenous rights, despite numerous measures already being implemented.


Seventy-eight States spoke, mainly commending the wide variety of positive developments with regards to progress towards eradicating child labour and poverty, Brazil’s achievements in human development in compliance with human rights standards, as well as the State’s seriousness and commitment to the UPR process.


However, key issues from the first cycle were again emphasised at this review, especially in terms of the implementation of recommendations:

  • Despite the passing of the Maria da Penha Law on domestic and family violence against women, a result from the first cycle, implementation was not evident in terms of the results achieved, while trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children remained a concern.
  • South Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and Sweden particularly raised concerns about ongoing failures in the detention system, both with regards to the insufficient number of public defenders to take up detainees’ cases, as well as detainees’ rights and overcrowding.
  • The new truth commission, an additional legislative measure to the Special Commission of Political Dead and Disappeared People discussed during the first cycle, was lauded as a mechanism to fulfil the right to memory and truth. However, Denmark and Spain both noted that extrajudicial killings by law enforcement officials were still occurring despite numerous State interventions in affected areas since the first cycle.
  • While acknowledging the large scale demarcation programmes of indigenous land, and other improvements in respect of indigenous peoples’ rights, numerous States emphasised the need for measures to advance the rights of indigenous people. Rights to lands, territories and resources were mentioned in particular as well as the rights of the Quilimbola communities.


Other issues marginalised in the first cycle now took a more central place for numerous States.  The rights of persons with disabilities were raised by Mexico, Nepal, Palestine, Slovakia, Turkey, and Argentina, in particular in relation to integration into society and access to work. Columbia, Norway, and Finland while praising the National Plan to promote LGBT rights and the creation of the National LGBT Council in 2010, wished for further legislation recognising same sex couples as well as better investigation and record keeping regarding homophobic crimes. Brazil responded to these issues, assuring States that rights for persons with disabilities were integral to the State’s action plans, while homophobic violence was being investigated both at the federal level as well as by civil society, a crucial actor in denouncing these crimes. It added that the Supreme Court has now recognised same sex civil unions.


The Netherlands and Mozambique also raised the need to expedite the establishment of a national human rights institution (NHRI) in compliance with the Paris Principles, a recommendation that had been made in the first cycle. Venezuela offered to share its experience in doing so.


Despite the improving track record of Brazil, it was also noted that urban restructuring in advance of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics must be effectively monitored to prevent forced displacements while also bringing lasting benefits to all urban inhabitants.


An ongoing concern from the working group concerned the protection of human rights defenders. The delegation assured States that this was being addressed through the Global Human Rights Defenders protection policy, which already counts nearly three hundred defenders under its protection. The delegation also added that prison infrastructures, capacities, and procedures were being improved on a national scale thanks to a new larger budget allocation.


Ms Nunes concluded the session by noting that the UPR is a continuous exercise, thus that Brazil would follow up on the recommendations and undertake monitoring to ensure their implementation. 


Brazil deferred giving a response on the 170 recommendations made to it until the 21st session of the Human Rights Council, in September. The delegation stated that the large number of recommendations made demanded that it conduct a thorough analysis before taking a position. 

Last Updated on Friday, 01 June 2012 14:56
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