Brazilian judges encouraged to act on torture

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The National Council of Justice of Brazil has issued a recommendation to all judges in the country to take specific measures every time they come across a possible situation of torture, or whenever they have reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed.

The resolution calls upon Brazilian judges to observe the rules of the Istanbul Protocol. They should request a physical and psychological examination of the victim by a forensic doctor, make use of any other evidence (such as pictures) to better understand what has happened, and have the accused perpetrator undertake a physical examination as a means to gather evidence on the crime.

By stressing the need to act promptly to gather evidence, this recommendation reinforces the role of judicial authorities in reducing impunity as well as in preventing torture through the dissuasive impact such measures will have. 

The Council recognizes that one of the more difficult obstacles for the investigation and sanction of torture is the challenge of gathering evidence, as torture usually is committed in closed places, without any third party witnesses. The victim is usually afraid to report because of the risk of reprisals.