The U.S. State Department has recently released their annual report on International Child Abduction. Below is our second post in a series here focusing on the ten countries classified as “demonstrating patterns of noncompliance.” Today's country is Brazil.
Country Summary: The Convention has been in force between the United States and Brazil since 2003. In 2019, Brazil continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Brazilian judicial authorities persistently failed to implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result, 55 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 four years and one month. Brazil was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2006-2019 Annual Reports.
Initial Inquiries: In 2019, the Department received 10 initial inquiries from parents regarding possible abductions to Brazil for which no completed applications were submitted to the Department.
Central Authority: The United States and the 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 2019, one abduction case was resolved through voluntary means.
Location: In one case, the competent authorities delayed taking appropriate steps to locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was six months. As of December 31, 2019, there was one case where the Brazilian authorities remain unable to initially locate a child. The Department of State requested location assistance, but the Brazilian authorities have not yet identified a location
Judicial Authorities: There were serious delays by the Brazilian judicial authorities in deciding Convention cases. As a result, cases may be pending with the judiciary for over one year, contributing to a pattern of noncompliance. Brazil's unresolved caseload has increased to 55 percent from 44 percent in the last reporting period, even as the total number of cases decreased from 16 to 11 and the number of children involved decreased from 24 to 16. In 2019, the Department did not observe any systemic changes regarding longstanding judicial delays, including, but not limited to, systemic delays both at the appellate and enforcement stages. We remain concerned with the Brazilian judiciary's repeated failure to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention.
Enforcement: While courts in Brazil ordered returns under the Convention, Brazilian authorities were not always able to enforce these orders. In one notable case, after ten years of litigation at all levels of the Brazilian judiciary, the Brazilian court still failed to enforce its own order for return.
Access: In 2019, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of three open access cases under the Convention in Brazil. All of these cases were opened prior to 2019 and have been filed with the Brazilian Central Authority. No new cases were filed in 2019. By December 31, 2019, one access case (33 percent) had been resolved, and two cases remained open. Both of the two remaining access cases have been pending with the Brazilian authorities for more than 12 months.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with the Brazilian authorities to address issues of concern.