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Brazil: New Law Creates System of Guarantees for Protection of Young Victims of Violence

(Apr. 20, 2017) On March 31, 2017, Brazil’s government adopted Law No. 13,431 to put in place a system of guarantees for children and adolescents who are witnesses to or victims of violence, to create mechanisms to prevent violence, and to establish measures of assistance and protection for children and adolescents in situations of violence. (Lei No. 13.431, de 4 de Abril de 2017 [Law No. 13,431 of April 4, 2017], PLANALTO, art. 1).

For the purposes of Law No. 13,431, children and adolescents must be heard, on the situation of violence they have witnessed or experienced, by means of specialized hearings and the opportunity to give special testimony (id. art. 4 § 1).  A specialized hearing is defined as the procedure of interviewing children or adolescents about a situation of violence before an organ of the protection (órgão da rede de proteção) for children, limiting the report strictly to what is necessary for the fulfillment of its purpose (id. art. 7).  Special testimony is defined as a hearing procedure involving a child or adolescent victim or witness of violence before the police or judicial authority (id. art. 8).

The child or adolescent must be protected from any contact, even if only visual, with the alleged perpetrator or accused person, or with any other person who represents a threat to them of coercion or embarrassment (id. art. 9).  The specialized hearing and the special testimony must be held in an appropriate and welcoming place, with the infrastructure and physical space to guarantee the privacy of the child or adolescent victim or witness of violence (id. art. 10).