SPT deeply concerned over detention conditions in Brazil

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brazil has now published the report of the visit in September 2011 by the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT). During this visit, the SPT inspected places of detention in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Espirito Santo.

The APT welcomes the decision to publicize the report, in which the SPT expresses its deep concern over living conditions and treatment of detainees in the country. The SPT stresses that impunity for acts of torture and ill-treatment remains widespread, as evidenced by the general failure to bring criminals to justice and the persistence of a culture that accepts abuses by public officials. Furthermore, the SPT raises concern "about the fact that the current institutional framework in Brazil does not offer sufficient protection against torture and ill-treatment."

The SPT notes that Brazil has not complied with its international obligation to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) – a body that will carry out regular monitoring visits to all places of detention in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture to which Brazil acceded to  in January 2007. The SPT urges Congress to quickly pass the bill of law 2442/2011 which establishes the Brazilian NPM which is currently pending before the House of Representatives, making such amendments as necessary "to ensure an open, transparent and inclusive - in particular, in relation to civil society -  selection and appointment process of members of the NPM ", as the current bill does not guarantee the degree of independence and autonomy required by the OPCAT.

On the other hand, the SPT celebrates that several Brazilian states have begun to create local mechanisms for the prevention of torture at the state level, noting that the states of Alagoas, Paraíba and Rio de Janeiro already have specific legislation to this effect: "The SPT welcomes this development and believes that the creation of these mechanisms should be encouraged by state and federal authorities of the States". The report stresses however that it is necessary that the states provide sufficient resources to those bodies to enable them to perform their duties effectively.

The APT is confident that the publication of this report is a key step in building a constructive dialogue with the SPT and other national actors for the speedy and effective implementation of the measures contained therein. Nevertheless, the APT reiterates the concern expressed by the SPT, that the current bill that creates the NPM does not guarantee the independence of its members as a required by OPCAT, and urges that changes  need to be incorporated to the text to establish that the method of selection of future members of the NPM is done through a public and participatory process.

To read the translated version of the report in Portuguese, click here.