Mobilization against a setback

Members of Congress in favor of the Constitutional Amendment Proposal 171/1993, which reduces the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16, are alone in their punitive zeal. This is what former ministers, jurists, academics and broad sectors of civil society intend to illustrate in a public event against the reduction next Tuesday, April 28, in São Paulo. Dozens of public authorities and more than 30 organizations, groups and movements have already joined the mobilization.

Among those confirmed are José Carlos Dias and Miguel Reale Junior, both former ministers of justice during the administration of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso; the São Paulo state attorney general, Marcio Elias Rosa; the president of the São Paulo State Court, José Renato Nalini; São Paulo’s chief public defender, Rafael Vernaschi; the former senator and São Paulo human rights secretary, Eduardo Suplicy; and the director of the University of São Paulo Law School, José Ricardo Cruz e Tucci. Jurists such as Oscar Vilhena Vieira, of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), Flavia Piovesan, of the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) and Salomão Shecaira, of University of São Paulo (USP), will also be present.

The list of organizations that have endorsed the event is also long. They include Conectas, the Regional Psychology Council, the Judges for Democracy Association, the Rosa Luxemburgo Foundation, the Brazilian Criminal Sciences Institute, the Mothers of May Movement, the Homeless Workers Movement and Human Rights Watch. See the full list on the event page on Facebook.

“There is a mismatch between the progress of Amendment 171 in the lower house and the concerns of a broad and representative sector of the Judiciary and of civil society. The purpose of this event is to demonstrate the lack of dialogue between lawmakers and these experts and leaders,” said Rafael Custódio, coordinator of the Justice program at Conectas. “There is a consensus among the authorities on the topic that lowering the age of criminal responsibility is not the solution to Brazil’s public security challenges. The data confirm this: young people are victims and not perpetrators of violence.”

The event against the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility will take place on Tuesday, April 28, at 7 pm, in the Grand Hall of the University of São Paulo Law School, in Largo São Francisco. A manifesto against Amendment 171 will be presented at the end of the meeting and submitted to the National Congress.

Confirm your presence at the event here.

Amendment 171

After having its admissibility approved by the Constitution and Justice Commission of the Lower House of Congress at the end of the March, Amendment 171/2013 is now being analyzed by a special commission formed by 27 members of Congress and chaired by Congressman André Moura. They have a time frame of 40 sessions to present a report and to vote.  The proposal will then be put to the floor of the lower house, where it needs to be approved in two rounds by three fifths of the lawmakers (308 votes).

According to Conectas, the admission of the proposal was an “historic error” with serious consequences for the prison and justice system. In addition to being an entrenched clause in the Constitution – meaning it may not be altered – any reduction of the age of criminal responsibility would go against a recommendation issued by the UN. The organization claims that the measure would pose a threat to the rights of children and adolescents and would also conflict with global trends in juvenile justice. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has also publicly expressed its concern with the proposal.

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