Regional Labour Tribunal of 19th Region, Ministry of Labour v. City of Maceio, 18 August 2009, Case No. 01080-2009-004-19-00-9

Constitution of Brazil

Article 5

(1) Norms that define fundamental rights and guarantees are immediately applicable.

(2) The rights and guarantees expressed in this Constitution do not exclude other rights stemming from the system and principles adopted by this text or stemming from international treaties to which the Federal Republic of Brazil is a party.

(3) International treaties and conventions on individual rights that are adopted by both houses of the Congress, in two rounds, by three fifths of the votes of the members of each house will be the equivalent of constitutional amendments.

Child labour
Role of International Law:
Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law
Type of instruments used:

Ratified treaties1

Child labour/ Death of a child/ Public Civil Action/ Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law

The Ministry of Labour (Ministério Público do Trabalho, MPT) brought to the Regional Labour Tribunal a public civil action (Açao Civil Pública) against the municipality of Maceio calling for compliance with the constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and international labour law “incorporated in the domestic legal order”. In this latter regard, it referred to the ILO Convention, 1999 (No. 182).

The case was brought after that a tractor manoeuvring in a garbage dump killed a child sleeping there, exhausted after a whole night’s work.

The MPT wanted the tribunal to condemn the city of Maceio for its responsibility not only for the death of this child, which stemmed from their lack of protection, but also for all children involved in night work at the dump.

The Public Civil Action sought not only condemnation of Maceio City and payment of a fine but also the immediate rescue of all the children working in the dump, prohibiting their further access to it. The petitioner also asked, among others measures, for the construction of full-time schools, occupational structures, and day-care centres. It demanded implementation of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs, and the Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. It also asked for collection and reporting of data on the measures formulated, including on the number of children covered by such measures, as well as additional fines for non-compliance.

The Regional Labour Tribunal issued a decision “inaudita altera pars”2 based on the Brazilian Constitution, ILO Convention No. 182 and the CRC.

1 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989; ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).

2 The “inaudita altera pars” is a form of remedy granted in anticipation of the beginning of the process, without the other party being heard (ex-parte).

Full text of the decision