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Constitution in Brazil

Like the United States, Brazil’s system of law is based on a Constitution. It’s called the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, and it is the basis for all legal authority in the country. Not only is it the source of legal framework, but it also outlines how the federal government should interact with states and citizens. The Constituent Assembly created the current Constitution in 1988, and it has gone through 67 amendments since. It took two years to write the Constitution from scratch.

  • The Brazilian Constitution in English

http://www.stf.jus.br/repositorio/cms/portalStfInternacional/portalStfSobreCorte_en_us/anexo/constituicao_ingles_3ed2010.pdf

History of the Constitution

The Brazilian Constitution was created in a time when military dictatorship was limiting freedom, and it was meant to ensure individual rights. In doing so, it became the first of its kind that demanded harsh punishment for any breaches of Brazilian civil liberties. Some items protected by the current Brazilian Constitution include:

  • Habeas Data – This is the right for citizens to learn what information the government holds about them. It is included in this law the ability for citizens to change what information is held about them when it is incorrect. To do so, they don’t need to go through court or a confidential administrative process.
  • The Cessation of the Propagation of Prejudice – Legal solutions are offered for prejudice that spreads from hate speech and racism. It also includes people who are denied rights for being disabled. Until the drafting of the Constitution in 1988, such remedies were not an option, and prejudice was ignored, leaving entire groups of people unemployed and hated.
  • The Identification of Unbailable Crimes - Unbailable crimes, according to the current constitution, include torture, actions against the democratic state, or any other action that could overthrow the Brazilian government. There is no excuse for these crimes and guilty parties will be given prison time without bail.
  • Direct Popular Participation –In addition to voting, the Brazilian Constitution now allows plebiscite, the ability for citizens to propose laws, and referendum. This part of the Constitution gives more power to the citizens of Brazil, which was another reason that it was redrafted in the first place.

Scope and Importance

The Brazilian Constitution is not that unlike the Constitution of the United States of America. Its purpose it to protect the citizens by giving them a fair chance in the court of law, while governing the country to be safe and pleasant. While the Constitutions are similar in purpose, the government uses them quite differently. Since the United States is a country that practices Common Law, it uses the Constitution as a guideline for legal rulings. Brazil is a country that practices Civil Law, which means the Constitution is the only thing considered when making legal decisions. Therefore, every single law stated in the Constitution must be current and accurate to ensure that any court decisions will be appropriate.

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