June 12, 2019
The decision bythe Brazilian Government to cripple its key national anti-torture body willhave devastating effects on the situation of people deprived of liberty, saidtoday Justiça Global, GAJOP and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT).
In a PresidentialDecree published on 11 June 2019, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonarodismissed the eleven members of the National Mechanism to Prevent and CombatTorture (MNCPT), an institution established in 2013 whose role is to inspectthe prisons in Brazil and monitor the concrete situation of persons deprived ofliberty and the respect of their human rights. The Decree also establishes thatthe new MNCPT will now function on a voluntary and unpaid basis, as its role isconsidered as a public service provision that would not require any remuneration.
“In practice, thisDecree sounds the death knell for an institution that was a crucial bufferproviding a modicum of protection to detainees,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCTSecretary General. “Only last month, an OMCT team visiting two detentioncentres for children in the State of Pernambuco witnessed clear human rightsviolations amounting to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.Together we our partners in Brazil, we urge the Government to rescind thisdecision.”
The measures foreseenin the Decree will prevent the MNCPT from carrying out its mandate, as this requiresfinancial resources and the availability of its members. The financialresources of the MNCPT are also a key element to guarantee its autonomy and independence,including in receiving complaints of human rights violations. The Decree istherefore a crucial threat to the functioning of the MNCPT, which would onlyexist on paper if this Decree was implemented.
During its missionto Brazil, the OMCT met with members of the MNPCT and identified its crucialrole in preventing torture and ill-treatment of children and in coordinatingwith the Local Preventive Mechanisms that exist in some of the States of Brazil. Any weakening of the institution andlimitation to its activities would have a severe impact on the lives ofchildren deprived of liberty and expose them to additional risks of torture andill-treatment.
Worse still, thispresidential Decree is issued only a few days after the death of more than 50 detaineesin a prison of the state of Amazonas. During these critical moments, the workof the MNCPT has been essential to report human rights violations and todescribe extensively the structural state of deterioration that continues tocharacterize Brazilian prisons as a whole.
The OMCT, JustiçaGlobal and GAJOP wants to recall that establishing a National PreventiveMechanism and granting the necessary resources to its functioning, both in financialand human terms, is an international obligation for all Sates parties to theOptional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which Brazil has ratified in 2007.
The OMCT, JustiçaGlobal and GAJOP urge the Government of Brazil to revoke its Decree n 9.831 andto guarantee to its National Preventive Mechanism all the necessary resources thatwill allow it to be fully operational and thus prevent situations of tortureand ill-treatment against persons deprived of liberty.