Integrated Actions to Prevent Torture and Ill Treatment in the State of Maranhão

Friday, March 30, 2012

The installation of a working group (WG) to discuss the creation of a preventive mechanism in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture in the State of Maranhão was one of the results of the debates held during the International Workshop on Monitoring Places of Deprivation of Liberty, held in Sao Luis, 14-16 March 2012.

The WG, which will include representatives of civil society organizations, judicial, legislative, Ombudsman, Community Council, Regional Council of Social Services and the Department of Human Rights and Public Safety, will reflect upon the creation of a State Preventive Mechanism, inspired by the experiences of the states of Alagoas, Paraíba and Rio de Janeiro, and will debate on how to integrate this new body with other agencies that already exist in the state with a mandate to monitor the prison system.

The construction of a preventive mechanism for monitoring places of detention in the State will also be on the agenda of the Week of the Fight Against Torture in the State organized by the Department of Human Rights and Citizenship of the State. Furthermore, the creation of such a body is the result of an express recommendation on the proposed State Plan for Integrated Actions for the Eradication of Torture in Maranhão.

The International Workshop addressed the different stages of the methodology of preventive visits to places of detention as well as the concept of torture and ill-treatment based on international treaties and the jurisprudence of the Interamerican Court on the subject. The Vice Governor of the State participated in the opening panel of the activity, emphasizing the need to combat and prevent any form of torture or ill treatment, with particular attention to the more vulnerable groups, such as those with mental health issues and minors in conflict with the law.  As part of the workshop, the participants conducted a monitoring visit to two places of detention: the Pedrinhas Prison and the Psychiatric Hospital Nina Rodrigues.

In addition to the training workshop, APT also participated in a seminar for administrators of the prison system and law enforcement officials, which aimed at discussing the role of these sectors in preventing and combating torture.

These initiatives, undertaken in the framework of the State Day to Combat Torture, March 22nd, were carried out in partnership with the Department of Human Rights and Citizenship of the State of Maranhão, the Bar Association of Brazil - Sectional MA, Attorney General's Office, State Committee Against Torture, the Human Rights Society of the State of Maranhão, and Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency.