As the National Congress in Brazil discusses the Amendment to the Constitution, called PEC n. 171/1993, which lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years of age, UNESCO, by means of its Representation in Brazil, recalls that the country has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Convention was ratified by Brazil as a member-state in 1990, and it establishes the definition of a child as “every human being below the age of eighteen”.

“Lowering the age of criminal responsibility is not a solution to violence in societies. Depending on the circumstances, we believe that this may aggravate the situation”, states the Director of UNESCO in Brazil, Lucien Muñoz.

For UNESCO in Brazil, it is necessary to guarantee fundamental rights to all adolescents.  Access to education, school attendance and learning should be at the top of the priority list to prevent violence from becoming the path chosen due to a lack of options for  Brazilian young men and women.

“There is a tragedy before the tragedy”, states the Lead Programme Coordinator of UNESCO in Brazil, Marlova Jovchelovitch Noleto, referring to the life conditions – especially to the lack of opportunities – of a significant portion of young men and women that commit a breach of law.

UNESCO in Brazil understands that the The Brazilian Child and Adolescent Rights Act (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente – ECA, Lei n. 8.069/1990) already provides resocialization mechanisms for underage legal offenders, although the enforcement of their principles needs to be improved. . “It is a myth to say that adolescents are not punished”, says Marlova Noleto.