Brazil 20-year public expenditure cap will breach human rights, UN expert warns

NEW YORK (9 December 2016) – Government plans to freeze social spending in Brazil for 20 years are entirely incompatible with the country’s human rights obligations, said Philip Alston, Faculty Chair and Co-Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

The principal and unavoidable effect of a proposed amendment to the Constitution designed to ‘lock in’ a budget freeze in order to show fiscal prudence will be to harm the poor for decades to come, the expert warned. The amendment, due to be voted on by Brazil’s Senate on 13 December, is known as PEC 55 or the New Fiscal Regime.

“If adopted, this amendment would lock in inadequate and rapidly dwindling expenditure on health care, education and social security, thus putting an entire generation at risk of social protection standards well below those currently in place,” Mr. Alston said.

“This is a radical measure, lacking in all nuance and compassion,” he added. “It clearly violates Brazil’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which it ratified in 1992, not to take ‘deliberately retrogressive measures’ unless there are no alternative options and full consideration has been given to ensure that the measures are necessary and proportionate.”

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