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Brazil: Chamber of Deputies Approves Bill to Imprison Anyone Cutting into Vaccination Priority Line

(Feb. 16, 2021) On February 11, 2021, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved Bill of Law 25/2021, which amends the Criminal Code to criminalize violations of immunization plans, the embezzlement of vaccines and medicinal or therapeutic goods, and any kind of corruption of an immunization plan. The purpose of the bill is to curb the practice of cutting into the new coronavirus vaccination priority line and other related offenses. The bill will now be forwarded to the Federal Senate for analysis.

Infringement of the vaccination priority order, also characterized as an offense against the “operationalization” of the immunization plan, can result in imprisonment from one to three years and a fine. The penalty is increased by one third if the agent falsifies a certificate, statement, affidavit, or any document.

In addition, the proposal doubles the penalty of endangering someone’s life or health through simulating or fraudulently administering the vaccine, increasing the term of imprisonment from between three months and one year to between six months and two years.

The penalty for the embezzlement of vaccines, goods, or medicinal or therapeutic supplies, which includes their “appropriation, diversion, or theft,” is imprisonment for three to 13 years and a fine. The crime of “corrupting an immunization plan” is characterized as using the position, for one’s own or another’s benefit, to violate the vaccination priority order or to disrupt, by any means, the operation of a federal, state, district, or municipal plan of immunization. The penalty is imprisonment from two to 12 years and a fine. Civil servants who fail to take steps to investigate the crime of corrupting an immunization plan may receive the same punishment. The penalty is increased from one third to half if such employees directly or indirectly demand, request, or receive, for themselves or others, an undue advantage, even if they are not part of the government before taking such advantage.