On May 24, 2022, Law No. 14,344, creating new mechanisms for preventing and confronting domestic and family violence against children and adolescents, was signed into law by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. The provisions of the law were formulated in accordance with articles 226(§ 8) and 227(§ 4) of the Federal Constitution and with specific provisions provided for in international treaties, conventions, and agreements ratified by the Federative Republic of Brazil.
The law also amends Decree-Law No. 2,848, of December 7, 1940 (Penal Code), Law No. 7,210 of July 11, 1984 (Criminal Enforcement Law), Law No. 8,069 of July 13, 1990 (Child and Adolescent Statute), Law No. 8,072 of July 25, 1990 (Heinous Crimes Law), and Law No. 13,431 of April 4, 2017, which establishes the system to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents who are victims or witnesses of violence.
Articles 226 and 227 of the Federal Constitution state that the family must enjoy special protection from the state; that it is the duty of the family, the society, and the government to protect children and adolescents; and that that the law must severely punish abuse of, violence toward, and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
According to article 2 of Law 14,344, any action or omission that causes death; injury; physical, sexual, or psychological suffering; or property damage in the context of the child’s or adolescent’s living or family situation constitutes domestic and family violence against the child or adolescent. Furthermore, article 3 of the law determines that domestic and family violence against children and adolescents is a violation of their human rights.
On verification that an action or omission has occurred that implies the threat or perpetration of domestic and family violence and the existence of a current or imminent risk to the life or physical integrity of the child or adolescent or their family members, the judicial authority or the police are to immediately remove the aggressor from the home, domicile, or place of coexistence with the victim. (Law 14,344, art. 14.)
Once the perpetration of domestic and family violence against children or adolescents is verified under the terms of Law No. 14,344, the judge may immediately order urgent protective measures, including:
- Suspending possession of or restricting the carrying of weapons by the aggressor, with communication to the competent body under the terms of Law No. 10,826, of December 22, 2003.
- Removal of the aggressor from the home or domicile of or place of coexistence with the victim.
- Prohibiting the aggressor from approaching victims, their family members, witnesses, informants, and whistleblowers by establishing a minimum distance to be maintained between them and the aggressor.
- Prohibiting the aggressor from having contact, by any means of communication, with victims, their family members, witnesses, informants, and whistleblowers.
- Prohibiting the aggressor from frequenting certain places to preserve the physical and psychological integrity of the child or adolescent, in compliance with the provisions of Law No. 8,069, of July 13, 1990.
- Restricting or suspending the aggressor’s visits to the child or adolescent.
- Requiring the aggressor to pay alimony.
- Requiring the aggressor to attend recovery and reeducation programs.
- Requiring the aggressor to undergo psychosocial follow-ups, through individual or group support assistance, or both. (Art. 20.)
The judge may also, when necessary, without prejudice to other measures, order the preventive arrest of the aggressor when there are sufficient indications of threat to the child or adolescent victim or witness of violence; the provision to victims and their natural, extended, or substitute families with the assistance to which they are entitled from social assistance bodies; and the inclusion of the child or adolescent, family members, informants, and whistleblowers in victim or witness protection programs. (Art. 21.)
Any person who has knowledge of or witnesses an action or omission, perpetrated in a public or private place, that constitutes domestic and family violence against children and adolescents is obligated to immediately report the fact to the service for receiving and monitoring complaints, and to call the National Human Rights Ombudsman of the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights; the Guardianship Council (Conselho Tutelar); or the police authority, which, in turn, will take the appropriate measures. (Art. 23.)
A person who fails to comply with a court decision granting an urgent protective measure provided for in Law No. 14,340 is punishable by three months to two years in prison. (Art. 25.)
In addition, failure to report to the public authority the perpetration of violence; cruel or degrading treatment; violent means of educating, correcting, or disciplining a child or adolescent; or abandonment of an incapable person is punishable by six months to three years in prison. (Art. 26.) The punishment is increased by one-half if the omission results in serious bodily harm, and tripled if it results in death. (Art. 26(§ 1).) The punishment is doubled if the crime is committed by an ascendant, blood relative up to the third degree, legal guardian (responsável legal), tutor, guardian (guardião), stepfather, or stepmother of the victim. (Art. 26(§ 2).)Law No. 14,340 adds sub-section IX to section 2 of article 121 of the Penal Code to consider homicide against a minor under 14 years of age as a qualified type of offense with a penalty of imprisonment for 12 to 30 years. It also adds section 2-B to article 121 to increase the punishment by one-third to one-half if the homicide victim is a minor under 14 years of age with a disability or has a disease that implies the increase of their vulnerability. The punishment is increased by two-thirds if the perpetrator is the victim’s ascendant, stepfather, stepmother, uncle, brother, spouse, partner, tutor, curator, preceptor, or employer, or has any kind of title of authority over the victim.