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Responding department: Secretariat of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic

Note: This response was originally submitted in Portuguese.  Unofficial English translation provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Has your government taken any initiatives to reduce companies’ negative impacts on human rights that you consider particularly successful?

The Brazilian government does not yet have a specific programme or plan relating to the promotion of human rights by companies, although occasional initiatives have been taken by some bodies. These include the so-called "Dirty List” of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Child Labour Eradication Programme (PETI) of the Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger. The "Dirty List" is a register of employers, updated half-yearly, which lists individuals and legal entities that have been fined for using slave labour. Those individuals and legal entities are banned from receiving any type of public funding. The PETI, meanwhile, is strategically structured around five areas of action: information and mobilization, with the conducting of public hearings and campaigns; active detection and registration in the federal government's Single Registry for Social Programmes; income transfer, integration of children, adolescents and families in social welfare services, and referral to health, education, culture, recreation or employment services; strengthening of supervision actions and family support through the application of protective measures, articulated with the judiciary, Public Prosecution Service and Guardianship Councils (Conselhos Tutelares); and monitoring.

What department or departments have significant responsibility for business and human rights within your government?

There is no particular body or unit that has specific competence for working with the interface between business and human rights. The discussion regarding implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is being led by the International Advisory Department of the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic, although there are other bodies with significant responsibility in relation to this subject as well. These include the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which, through its labour inspectors, oversees compliance with Brazilian labour legislation and the ILO standards transposed into Brazilian law by companies, and can fine them in the event of a violation.

Has your government undertaken new business & human rights initiatives or strengthened existing ones since the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles in June 2011?

There have not yet been any initiatives specifically motivated by the UN's Guiding Principles. However, policies to strengthen human rights, interfacing with the private sector, are being developed by various bodies, with an emphasis on tackling slave labour and child labour, and on promoting equal opportunities in the workplace (especially in favour of vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities).

Has your government adopted a National Action Plan on business and human rights as encouraged by the UN Human Rights Council and UN Working Group on business & human rights, or will it do so in the future?

Brazil has not yet adopted a National Action Plan, although it is due to hold a public consultation (encompassing businesses, civil society and government agencies) to identify the main challenges to implementation of the Guiding Principles and to map existing good practices.

Access to remedy: What steps have been taken to develop new judicial or administrative remedies or to reduce barriers to existing remedies for victims?

In 2013, the Ministry of Justice developed the Atlas of Access to Justice, a portal via which any citizen can find the correct body (judicial or otherwise) for filing a complaint. It has also prepared a guide entitled the “ABC of Rights”, which explains the meaning of legal terms in a simple and accessible manner.

Access to remedy: What steps have been taken to develop new non-judicial remedies, improve existing mechanisms, and reduce barriers for victims?

Since 2003, within the Ministry of Finance, there has been a National Contact Point for implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which is responsible for receiving complaints and issuing recommendations.

Access to remedy: For companies headquartered in your country or their subsidiaries, has your government taken steps to enhance accountability for human rights impacts abroad?

The internationalization of Brazilian companies is still in its early stages.

Which factors impede your government’s ability to take action on business and human rights?

Most important factor is:

  • Lack of understanding or awareness of business & human rights in government

Significant factors are:

  • Opposition or lack of consensus within government
  • Opposition by economic interest groups or business associations
  • Other opposition by influential people or groups outside government
  • Concern about deterring foreign investment

Minor factors are:

  • Lack of resources for enforcement, monitoring and prosecution 
  • Challenges of coordinating across government departments  

What, if any, form of support would your government welcome the most to help advance its actions to improve companies’ impacts on human rights?

The holding of awareness-raising events aimed at government bodies that are not traditionally active in the area of human rights (especially in the area of commerce and the economy) could contribute to building consensus.