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News > Brazil

Brazil: Senate Passes Bill to Penalize Racial Hate Crimes

  • Citizens attend protests over the death of Joao Alberto Silveira, Brazil, 2020.

    Citizens attend protests over the death of Joao Alberto Silveira, Brazil, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @SenadoFederal

Published 26 November 2020 (7 hours 2 minutes ago)
Opinion

Legislators seek to modify the Penal Code so that racial, religious, or cultural motivations are considered as aggravating factors in the commission of a crime.

Brazil's Senate approved a bill on Wednesday to extend the penalties for racial hate crimes. This happened after a wave of nation-wide protests over the death of Joao Alberto Silveira at the hands of security personnel at a supermarket in Porto Alegre.

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The bill was introduced by Workers' Party (PT) Senator Paulo Paim who chairs the Senate s Human Rights Committee. 

His text seeks to modify the Penal Code so that racial, religious, or cultural motivations are considered as aggravating factors in the commission of a crime.

"This bill shows that the Senate is on the side of society, that it does not agree with racism, nor discrimination, as dictated by our Constitution," Paim said.

If approved in the Lower Chamber, the Bill will be analyzed by the Executive branch which may sanction or veto it. 

Silveira's death on November 19 unleashed a wave of massive protests during Black Consciousness Day. Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the reason for the demonstrations, arguing that there are sectors interested in "creating tension" and "manufacturing discord and conflict" in the country.

His statements came after Vice President General Hamilton Mourao assured that in Brazil "racism does not exist".

Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the violence committed against Silveira, while also calling on authorities to address the racism situation in the country. 

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