Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Brazil: 2021 State Department's Annual Report on International Child Abduction

Country Summary: The Convention has been in force between the United States and Brazil since 2003. In 2020, Brazil continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Brazilian judicial authorities failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. Additionally, the competent authorities failed to take appropriate steps to locate a child in an abduction case, contributing to Brazil’s persistent failure to implement and abide by the provisions of the Convention. As a result of these persistent failures, 75 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average, these cases were unresolved for three years and eight months. Brazil was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2006-2020 Annual Reports. 

Initial Inquiries: In 2020, the Department received three initial inquiries from parents regarding possible abductions to Brazil for which no completed applications were submitted to the Department.

In a majority of cases open at the end of calendar year 2020 in which there are judicial delays, the Brazilian Central Authority reported that Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF) was involved at some point. In some instances, it appeared that MPF intervention impacted cases. In other instances, actions by the MPF appeared to lengthen judicial proceedings in Brazil. 

Central Authority: The U.S. and Brazilian Central Authorities have a strong and productive relationship.

Voluntary Resolution: The Convention states that central authorities “shall take all appropriate measures to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues.” In 2020, one abduction case was resolved through voluntary means before the case was filed with the Brazilian Central Authority, and the child returned to the United States. 

Brazil demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention as a result of failure by the competent authorities to take appropriate steps to locate children after a Convention application was filed. As a result, there is one case (accounting for 11 percent of the unresolved cases) that has been pending for more than 12 months where law enforcement has failed to locate the children, leading to significant delays in initiating the legal proceedings. The average time to locate a child was 37 days.

 Judicial Authorities: There were serious delays by the Brazilian judicial authorities in deciding Convention cases. As a result of these delays, cases may be pending with the judiciary for over one year, contributing to a pattern of noncompliance. In 2020, the Department was again unaware of any Brazilian efforts to address judicial delays, despite repeated engagement during the year by the Ambassador, senior Mission personnel, and the Department with counterparts Brazil, continued 32 in the Brazilian government. This failure to improve Convention implementation continues in the form of delays at the first-instance, the appellate, and the enforcement stages. As a result, the Department remains deeply concerned with the Brazilian judiciary’s repeated failure to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. Moreover, the U.S. Central Authority is deeply concerned by language that was clearly non-compliant with the Convention in more than one judicial decision. In these decisions, the courts used inaccurate definitions for a defense to a return claim. 

Enforcement: While courts in Brazil ordered returns under the Convention, Brazilian authorities were not able to enforce these orders. In one notable case, after 11 years of litigation at all levels of the Brazilian judiciary, the Brazilian Central Authority reported that the Brazilian court still failed to enforce its own judiciary’s order for return. Moreover, judicial decisions in Convention cases in Brazil were generally not enforced by the judiciary, which contributed to a pattern of noncompliance. 

Access: In 2020, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of two open access cases under the Convention in Brazil. Both of these cases were opened prior to 2020. Both cases had been filed with the Brazilian Central Authority. By December 31, 2020, both of these cases had been resolved. Department 

Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with Brazilian authorities to address issues of concern and will consider actions to prompt better Brazilian compliance with the Convention.