Brazil - National | Legislation
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National | Legislation

(In Portuguese)


Current Constitution (1988 as amended in 2007)

State of Emergency

According to Articles 136-139 of the Constitution, measures that restrict rights may only be decreed in a "State of Defence" or "State of Siege", which allow for the imposition of extraordinary constitutional laws. (See also, the Overview of the National Legal Framework section.)

Criminal Law

Criminal Code (1940 as amended in 1984)

Criminal Procedure Code (1941)

Criminal Military Code (1969)

Law defining crimes against national security, (L. 7.170, 1983)


Law on the crime of torture, (L. 9.455, 1997)

Compilation of Torture Laws, see PDF below (Source: ATP, unofficial document)   

War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, Genocide

Accountability for War Crimes

On 13 June 2007, Parliament started proceedings for the adoption of a law for the definition of acts which constitute war crimes and for provisions to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The draft legislation (PL 307/2007) establishes the penal sanctions, which correspond to war crimes whether committed in international or non-international armed conflict.

Accountability for Crimes against Humanity

The Law n°6683 (1979) granted amnesty for political crimes and crimes with a political nexus that were committed by members of the armed services or members of the government between 2 September 1961 and 15 August 1979. It created exceptions for the crimes of terrorism, assault and kidnapping. It also laid down some of the details for the administration of the amnesty.

In November 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in Gomes-Lund et al. (Guerrilha do Araguaia) v. Brazil that this amnesty law does not prevent the investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations committed during military rule.

Military Law and Courts

Statute of the Military Supreme Court (as amended in 2004)

Law N° 3299 (1996), transfers jurisdictional authority over intentional crimes against human life committed by military police officers from the Military Courts to the Common Courts, thereby eliminating the privileged forum that had previously shielded military police officers responsible for the deaths of civilians.

Human Rights Law

Special Secretariat for Human Rights (Secretaria Especial dos Direitos Humanos)

Law n° 9140, of 4 December 1995, officially recognised that the deaths of those that disappeared was a consequence of their political activities during the dictatorship, assigned responsibility for those deaths to the state and granted compensation to the victims' families.

Decree of 27 August 2003 – Constituting an Interministerial Commission and establishing the criteria and means of reparation for the political amnesties provided for in the Law No. 10.559 of 13 November 2002.

Law n° 10875 of 1 June 2004, transformed Provisional Measure No. 176 of 3 March 2004 into law, and adjusted the law cited above, extending the period subject to compensation for disappearances connected to the military regime, extending the legal scope for increasing compensation to the families of individuals who disappeared for their political activities, while consolidating the role of the Special Commission before the Special Secretariat for Human Rights with respect to the payment of compensation.

Law on the missing, (L. 9.140, 1995)

Law defining crimes related to race or color, (L. 7.716, 1989)

Amnesty Laws

Regulation on Law of Amnesty (Decree No. 84143 of 31 October 1979)

The 1988 Constitution of Brazil contains provisions on transition to civilian government in Articles 8 and 9. Article 8 of the Constitutional Provisions Act of the 1988 Constitution, grants amnesty to those individuals who were the targets of exceptional acts for purely political motives during the period extending from 18 September 1946 to the promulgation of the Constitution. 

The Special Amnesty Commission (Comissão Especial de Anistia) was established in Brasilia to grant political amnesties. In 1988, the state of São Paulo formed the Special Amnesty Commission (Comissão Especial de Anistia) at the state level to process and order the measures specified in Article 8 of the Transitional Constitutional Provisions Act. The states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina, also approved specific laws granting political detainees, who were subjected to torture and mistreatment during the dictatorship, the right to compensation.

Law n° 10599 of 13 November 2002, developing Article 8 of the Constitutional Provisions Act and other transitional provisions and establishing the political amnesty regime.


Law on administrative and penal sanctions in the case of activities prohibited by the Convention on Chemical Weapons, (L. 11.254, 2005)

Law on anti-personnel landmines, (L. 10.300, 2001)

Useful website:


Presidencia da Republica, Lei

See also:

Legal Remedies for Corporate Human Rights Abuse (International Commission of Jurists, 2011)


Compilation of Torture Laws, country profile: Brazil, ATP
Brazil links
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
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