Don’t Allow Youth to be Tried as Adults


Target: Brazilian Congress Members

Goal: Reject amendment for youth to be tried and punished as adults.

The Brazilian Congress will soon be voting on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for 16 and 17 year olds to be tried and consequently punished as adults. The proposed amendment would modify an article of the Constitution that states that minors who are under eighteen years old cannot be legally held criminally reliable and are therefore tried with “the rules of special legislation.”

If the amendment is approved it would result in trials for 16 and 17 year olds in ordinary courts instead of the system for juveniles. Consequently, these juveniles would be incarcerated with adults. Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil’s director at Human Rights Watch, feels that this amendment would “violate the rights of Brazil’s children and, ultimately, threaten the safety of its citizens.”

We must act to prevent the Brazilian Congress from approving this amendment that could have devastating consequences for Brazil’s youth. By incarcerating children with adults, it creates a toxic and dangerous environment. The amendment would also violate international law as well as treaties that have been ratified by Brazil. Sign the petition to ensure that 16 and 17 year olds in Brazil continue to be tried as children.


Dear Brazilian Members of Congress,

I am writing this letter to urge you to reject a proposed amendment to Brazil’s Constitution that would make it legal for children that are ages 16 and 17 years old to be tried as adults and therefore incarcerated with them instead of being placed in a separate juvenile facility.

Proponents of the amendment believe it will reduce crime but there is evidence that it could produce the opposite effect. The United States tries adolescents as adults and there are studies that demonstrate how children whose cases are not handled by a juvenile justice system are more likely to commit crimes after they are released than those whose cases are handled in a separate court system. It is extremely dangerous for youth to be incarcerated with adults. It creates a toxic and unsafe environment for children.

Furthermore, approving the amendment would violate international legal standards that have been codified in human rights treaties ratified by Brazil like the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I urge you to make the right ethical and moral decision by rejecting an amendment that could increase crime in Brazil, endanger the lives of children, and violate international treaties.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Blog Spot

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