Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Ban on Physical Punishment of Children in Brazil

July 11, 2014

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the approval in Brazil of Law No. 13.010, which bans the physical punishment of children.

According to publicly available information, the law guarantees the right of children and adolescents to education without the use of physical punishment as a form of correction or discipline or for any other pretext. The information received indicates that this prohibition is in effect for fathers, mothers, other members of the family, educators, public agents responsible for implementing socio-educational measures, and any other individuals in charge of caring for children, treating them, educating them, or protecting them. The new law also establishes that the federal government, the states, the federal district, and municipalities must work together to prepare and implement public policies designed to prevent the use of physical punishment, and to educate the public about nonviolent educational methods.

In its “Report on Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents,” the Commission established that guaranteeing the right of children and adolescents to a life free of violence is a priority challenge in the region. Moreover, the IACHR stated that the use of corporal punishment as a way to discipline children and adolescents, whether imposed by someone acting on behalf of the State or with the State’s permission or tolerance, constitutes a form of violence against children which violates their dignity and hence their human rights. The Commission’s report noted with concern that the use of corporal punishment as a means to discipline children is accepted by societies and tolerated in many States in the region.

The Commission concluded in its report that, in accordance with inter-American human rights instruments, the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) have the obligation to ensure that children and adolescents have special protection from the use of corporal punishment. “The IACHR consequently attests that the State’s duty of ensuring respect for the rights of the child requires the adoption of legislative measures that explicitly prohibit the corporal punishment of children and adolescents in the home, at school, and in institutions responsible for their care.”

The Inter-American Commission welcomes the approval of this law—which was promulgated by President Dilma Rousseff and published in the Official Gazette on June 27—as it represents an important step toward the goal of eradicating corporal punishment and making the Americas a region free of corporal punishment for children and adolescents.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 74/14