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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Brazil

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Brazil, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 27 April 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 186.4 million (62.2 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 287,900
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18 (see text)
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17; 16 with parental consent
Voting Age: 16
Optional Protocol: ratified 27 January 2004
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

Although 16-year-olds could volunteer to do military service, there was no information on under-18s in the armed forces.


Public security was a major problem, with rioting in overcrowded prisons and generally high levels of violence, including killings of police, by criminal gangs.1

Children as young as seven continued to be involved in drug gangs in urban and rural areas, often being made responsible for gun and drug smuggling and distribution.2 Armed confrontations between urban-based drug factions killed hundreds of people every year.4

Children as young as seven were reported to be armed and selling drugs in Rio de Janeiro.5 According to one study an estimated one in five youths was killed within two years of joining a drug gang.6 Recruitment and use of children by drug factions was regarded by some observers as comparable to that by forces involved in armed conflict: they targeted particular age groups for recruitment, allocated them specific functions and standing within the command structure, and rewarded them financially.

During 2006 state authorities in Rio de Janeiro used armoured troop carriers (caveirões) and deployed troops and tanks in an attempt to combat drug gangs controlling most of the city's shanty towns. There were reports that up to 92 shanty towns were under the control of paramilitary-style militias, made up of active and former police officers acting with the support of local politicians and community leaders.7


National recruitment legislation and practice

All citizens between 18 and 45 years of age were liable to military duties according to the law.8 Individuals had to register with the Military Service Board (Junta de Serviço Militar) between 1 January and 30 April of the year they turned 18. Between July and September military commissions throughout the country selected those who would be enlisted into the armed forces. Military service law stated that recruits for active service or for the reserves must be Brazilians who turned 19 between 1 January and 31 December of the year they joined the armed forces.9 While the law stated this position clearly, there appeared, however, to be some ambiguity on this point in Brazil's declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol, which seemed to indicate that recruitment could take place at a younger age.

Military service lasted 12 months and included military, technical, academic and vocational instruction. According to some analysts it was seen as a source of opportunities and social progress, and the number of young men seeking to do military service often exceeded the number selected.10

Those with at least three years' secondary education could choose to do their military service for one year at reserve officer training institutions (Centro de Preparação de Oficiais da Reserva – CPOR, Reserve Officers Training Centre, and Núcleo de Preparação de Oficiais da Reserva – NPOR, Reserve Officers Training Unit) and then remain as temporary army officers if they so wished. Medicine, pharmacy, dentistry or veterinary students who had been enlisted could delay their entry until completing their studies; they had to register with the military authorities within a year of graduation and begin active service. On finishing, they could choose to remain within the armed forces as health-service officials for a fixed period.11

Reservists could join the Tiros-de-Guerra (TG) training units in their own municipalities, doing military service while continuing their studies or jobs. There were more than 200 TGs throughout the country.12

Women were exempt from conscription but could volunteer for the armed forces. Volunteers could do military service from the year they turned 17.13 Brazil's declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol stated that volunteers under 17 had to have written parental consent.

Military training and military schools

Each branch of the armed forces had its own educational institutions, both facilities for training soldiers and officers, and primary and secondary schools. Candidates to officer schools had to be 21-24 years of age, depending on the branch, and to have completed their secondary education. Women could only specialize in health, administration or engineering.14 All military educational institutions were under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research.15

Candidates to the Agulhas Negras Military Academy (AMAN) first had to attend a course at the Army Cadets Preparatory School (EsPCEx) for a year, equivalent to the third year of secondary-school.16 They had to be at least 16 at the end of the year in which they attended EsPCEx, and under-18s needed to have parental consent.17 Students were given the rank of second or third sergeant and, on graduating, were automatically registered for AMAN. On entering AMAN, EsPCEx graduates were considered to be cadets – that is, between second lieutenant and officer candidate.18

There were 12 military schools offering education to children aged 10-17.19


At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Brazil and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.

1 Amnesty International Report 2006 and 2007.

2 "More and younger children in the Brazil's Mato Grosso drug trade", Comunidad Segura, 19 October 2007,

3 Amnesty International Report 2007.

4 Children and Youth in Organised Armed Violence (COAV), "Youths with guns, increasingly a part of life in Brazil's small towns", 9 March 2006,

5 Marcelo Monteiro, "Study shows that children as young as seven are taking part in Rio drug trade", COAV, 7 March 2005.

6 "Rio Slums Blighted by Drug Crime", BBC News, 21 October 2005; "Short lifespan in Rio drug gangs", BBC News, 25 November 2006.

7 Amnesty International Report 2006 and 2007.

8 Decreto No. 57.654, 20 January 1966, Regulamenta a lei do Serviço Militar, Art. 98.2.a. and Art 166.2.5,

9 Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Programa Seguridad y Ciudadanía, Reporte del Sector Seguridad en América Latina y el Caribe, Informe Nacional: Brasil, August 2006,

10 Ibid.

11 Exército Brasileiro, O Serviço Militar,

12 Ibid.

13 FLACSO, above note 9.

14 Ibid.

15 Regimento Interno dos Colégios Militares,

16 Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras, Ingresso,

17 Escola Preparatória de Cadetes do Exército, Manual Candidato EsPCEx 2007,

18 Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras, above note 16.

19 Exército Brasileiro, Portal de Educação, Educação Fundamental e Média,

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