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Brazil has adopted detailed legislation on terrorism that contains a carve-out for the exercise of fundamental human rights, but in 2019 an amendment was proposed in Parliament that, if enacted, would broaden the scope of offences to encompass political opposition and protest. Brazil's Constitution addresses terrorism and terrorist defendants.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Brazil's 2016 law defined terrorism as "the practice by one or more individuals of the acts mentioned in this article for reasons of xenophobia, discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity and religion, when committed for the purpose of causing social or generalized terror, exposing individuals, properties, public peace or public safety to danger".

Acts of terrorism are the following:

- using or threatening to use, transporting, keeping, possessing, carrying or bringing explosives, toxic gases, poisons, biological, chemicals or nuclear products or other means capable of causing damage or promoting mass destruction;

- sabotaging the operation or taking total or partial control, with violence, serious threat to an individual or by making use of cyber mechanisms, albeit on a temporary basis, of the means of communication or transportation, of ports, airports, railway or bus stations, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, sports stadiums, public facilities or locations where essential public services are installed, power generation or transmission facilities, military facilities, exploration, refining and processing of oil and gas facilities and bank institutions and their service network.

– attempting [an attack] on a person’s life or physical integrity.Art. 2(1), 2016 Terrorism Law.

There is an explicit carve-out for the exercise of fundamental human rights.

The provisions of this article shall not apply to individual or collective conduct of people in political demonstrations, social movements, trade unions, religious, class or professional category movements, driven by social or claim purposes, aiming to challenge, criticize, protest or support, in order to defend rights, freedoms and constitutional guarantees, without prejudice to the criminal classification contained in law.Art. 2(2), 2016 Terrorism Law.

A proposed revision of the 2016 Law has been moving through Parliament since 2019, but has been sharply criticized by human rights organisations and the United Nations. CIVICUS, for instance, has stated that:

The bill No 1595/2019 expands the concept of "terrorism’"and the actions that can be considered "terrorist" as it uses vague language that surpasses what is generally understood as terrorism under international law. For example, it stipulates that actions taken by individuals or collectively with the appearance of "intent" to intimidate the public or impact on public policies may be subjected to criminal actions. The vague nature of these provisions may allow the authorities to subjectively interpret the bill and use it to target individuals or groups involved in peaceful protests.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Brazil is a State Party to all of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party


Brazil has also adhered to the 2002 Inter-American Convention against Terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
2002 Inter-American Convention against Terrorism State Party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

The penalty under the 2016 for terrorist offences is "imprisonment, from twelve to thirty years in addition to the penalties corresponding for threats or violence".Art. 2, 2016 Terrorism Law.

"To promote, constitute, integrate or provide assistance, personally or through an intermediary, to a terrorist organization" carries a penalty, upon conviction, of imprisonment, from five to eight years, and a fine.Art. 3, 2016 Terrorism Law.

The Constitution of Brazil makes terrorism a non-bailable offence.Art. 5(43), Constitution of Brazil. 

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The Brazilian Federal Police is Brazil's lead operational counterterrorism agency. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) is a civilian national security organization in charge of counterterrorism intelligence both at home and abroad.

The amendment to the terrorism law, first proposed in 2019, would introduce new surveillance mechanisms for those suspected of terrorism or of associating with terrorist activities. It proposes the creation of new government agencies, including a National Counterterrorism System and Counterterrorist Strategic Units that would report directly to the Executive. The bill empowers these agencies to infiltrate groups or individuals suspected of terrorist activities and carry out other covert operations against them.  


Brazil Law 13.260 on Terrorism (2016)

Constitution of Brazil (English version)

Criminal Code of Brazil