Brazilian Law guarantees that anyone who is not financially able to hire the services of a lawyer and pay for legal proceedings is entitled to free legal aid.
In Brazil, the “Defensoria Pública” (Public Defender’s Office) is responsible for providing legal advice and guidance to persons who are not able to afford such costs. Asylum seekers and refugees are also entitled to receive help from the Public Defender’s Office. The Public Defender’s Office is present in all Brazilian states and in most large cities; it is subdivided into the State Public Defender’s Office (“Defensoria Pública do Estado”) and the Federal Public Defender’s Office (“Defensoria Pública da União”), depending on the subject-matter:
- “Defensoria Pública da União” (Federal Public Defender’s Office): for any questions or dissatisfaction concerning your asylum claim, documentation, retirement, rights of foreigners in Brazil or access to social welfare benefits, or if you are a defendant in criminal proceedings before a Federal Court involving, for example, forged passports or identification documents, or in extradition and deportation proceedings.
- “Defensoria Pública do Estado” (The State Public Defender’s Office): for any questions or dissatisfaction concerning housing, rent, divorce, alimony and maintenance, custody of children and adolescents, post-mortem estate inventory, questions of paternity or compensation or if you are a defendant in criminal proceedings before a State Court such as homicide, theft, robbery, fraud or embezzlement, rape, etc.
The Public Defender’s Office is present in all Brazilian states and in most large cities. See some useful contacts on their website.
Additionally, you can also contact one of UNHCR’s partners to have free legal assistance.
In addition to the Public Defender’s Office, in some Brazilian cities there are legal assistance services specializing in refugees and asylum seekers. Check the list below.
- Caritas Arquidiocesana de São Paulo
Rio de Janeiro
In Rio de Janeiro, CEPRI – Center for the Protection of Refugees and Immigrants from the Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation offers free legal assistance for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in matters related to Right of Refuge and Migration Law. CEPRI-Casa Rui specializes in handling cases involving gender violence, persecution based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and unaccompanied or separated minors.