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Our Government support a number of human rights initiatives in Brazil as part of programmes implemented by the British embassy in Brasilia, the Department for International Development and the British Council,
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and examples include: a project to combat torture, with a focus on the role of forensics; activities to promote gender equality and social inclusion; projects to promote access to information and justice, and to raise awareness of human rights in Brazil.

The UK Government also support projects to promote child rights. That includes reporting to the committee on the UN convention on the rights of the child; and supporting the work of Viva Rio to reduce gun violence and to prevent young people from becoming involved in drugs trafficking and gang violence. I have seen examples of that work when I have visited Brazil.

Many Ministers have had the opportunity to visit Viva Rio, as I did in 2002. More recently, the Prince of Wales visited a favela in Rio during his visit to Brazil in March, in order to see at first-hand the good work that is being done. Viva Rio received £500,000 in conflict-prevention fund money for a three-year initiative to tackle the supply of small arms and light weapons in the region, the aim of which was to help to reduce the amount of small arms-related urban violence in Rio de Janeiro—that is exactly the kind of initiative for which my hon. Friend was calling.

There are other examples of similar work being done— for example, projects to help children in conflict with the law in Brazil and a project aimed at alternatives to juvenile detention. Our Government fund a project, in partnership with UNICEF, to support the Brazilian Government in implementing the convention on the rights of the child committee’s recommendations on juvenile justice. The project helps to build on the reform agenda between the Government, civil society, law operators and UNICEF to provide alternatives to adolescent detentions, and in the long-term it aims to reduce the abuses of child rights, including ill treatment and torture. The project strongly supported the creation of the bill of law, which is being discussed in the Brazilian Congress. That demonstrates how the project secured its main objectives of achieving political buy-in.

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We also supported a two-year project that monitored, through a shadow report and enhanced civil society participation, the implementation of the convention on the rights of the child in Brazil. The shadow report was produced by civil society and involved the participation of 20 organisations. The project came at an opportune time—when the Brazilian Government were planning to present their second official report to the convention on the rights of the child committee—and has helped to contribute to a reduction of child rights abuses in Brazil.

We are also engaging in and supporting a project that strongly supports the creation and implementation of the national plan to combat torture in Brazil. The project’s funds served as seed money to cascade implementation of the plan among the Brazilian states, working with the Brazilian Government at federal level. This partnership between the UK and Brazil exerted influence on the legislature to create a presidential decree, and in 2006 Brazil ratified the UN protocol on torture. That had a positive effect on the partnership and on the UK’s profile.

I hope that I have been able to give my hon. Friend an indication of where the two countries are working together. We recognise the enormous challenges that Brazil faces in dealing with these issues. We continue to support the efforts of the Brazilian authorities and will continue to maintain a dialogue on human rights, as part of our broader bilateral relationship with Brazil. As well as acting bilaterally, we will work with our partners in the European Union. Brazil is a key partner in the international arena, and we want to continue to work with it to tackle its human rights challenges.

Question put and agreed to.

3 pm

House adjourned.

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