(Feb. 20, 2013) On February 7, 2013, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court decided that an alien’s naturalization as a Brazilian citizen can only be annulled through a judicial procedure and not through an administrative act. The decision was made on an appeal filed by a naturalized Brazilian citizen who was contesting the annulment of his naturalization through an administrative act of the Ministry of Justice. According to the administrative action, the annulment had occurred because the person had provided false information on his naturalization application and did not disclose that he had a prior criminal record in his country of origin. (Plenário: ato de naturalização só pode ser anulado por via judicial, NOTÍCIAS STF (Feb. 07, 2013).)

The prevailing opinion of the Court was that although the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 did not invalidate paragraphs of Law No. 6,815 of 1980, which regulates, inter alia, naturalization in the country and permitted such administrative annulments of naturalizations (Law No. 6,815, Aug. 19, 1980, art. 112, §§ 2 & 3), in 2007 Brazil formalized its accession to the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Convention stipulates that signatory states may only deprive a person of his nationality by decision of a court or other independent body. (Id.; Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, 1961, 989 USTS 175; Lei No. 6.815, de 19 de Agosto de 1980, PLANALTO.GOV.BR.)

Article 112 (§ 2) of Law No. 6,815 determines that once untruths or material misrepresentations are identified on a naturalization application or any violations of the requirements of articles 112, 113 and 114 of the Law No. 6,815 are identified, the act of naturalization will be declared invalid without prejudice to the applicable criminal sanctionsf or the violation.

Article 112 (§ 3) establishes that the declaration of invalidity referred to in article 112 (§ 2) will be processed administratively, at the Ministry of Justice, ex officio or upon a reasoned request. The naturalized person has15 days from the date of notification to present his or her defense.

The Court opinion concluded that the provisions of Law No. 6,815 were revoked when <?Brazil joined the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and issued a legislative decree incorporating the Convention into its domestic law. Therefore, the Convention applies to the case being analyzed, because the action for annulment of the naturalization occurred in 2008, and Brazil joined the Convention in 2007, through Legislative Decree 274. Therefore, a judicial procedure is required to annul naturalization. (Plenário: ato de naturalização só pode ser anulado por via judicial, supra.)

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