Yet another alarming initiative giving free rein to torture

​Press Release

Geneva, 9 December 2019 – The recent decision by the Brazilian government to remove the obligation of federal states to consider recommendations from the National Mechanism to Prevent and Combat Torture (MNCPT) will leave people in detention, including children, more vulnerable than ever to serious abuse.

“We have been witnessing a systematic denial of torture cases and attacks on the main body trying to fight them in Brazil, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). When a country announces it will henceforth ignore recommendations from its own National Preventive Mechanism, it not only turns a blind eye to torture, but it condones it.”

On 4 December, Justice Minister Sergio Moro modified ministerial order 225/2018, which used to make the release of funds from the national government conditional on the application of the recommendations of the MNCPT. The measure comes less than a month after a report from the MNCPT denounced serious forms of torture in prisons under federal supervision in the northern State of Pará. This is the same State where 62 detainees died at the end of July during an outbreak of violence related, among others, to overcrowding and ill-treatment. Accusation of torture against prisoners were quickly dismissed by the Minister of Justice and by Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro.

This development is only the latest in an alarming series of attacks aimed at weakening the main anti-torture body in the country. In June, president Bolsonaro dismissed experts from the MNCPT and removed federal funds that allowed the body to function. The MNCPT is responsible for monitoring and inspecting prisons in Brazil, where currently 812,000 people are detained, and where overcrowding, violence and degrading living conditions are notoriously rife.

"The State has a national and international commitment to promote and increase effective actions to fight torture, said Deila Martins from Gabinete de Assesoria Jurídica como Organizações Populares (GAJOP). What we see instead are repeated attempts to attack MNPCT's autonomy and operating conditions. This is a clear violation of the principle of non-regression of human rights."

The OMCT and GAJOP have been working closely with the MNCPT and local preventive mechanisms, particularly in the state of Pernambuco, to prevent and fight torture and ill-treatment. These bodies play a crucial role in the protection of people deprived of liberty, including children, and in the fight against torture in the country. Our organizations urge Minister Sérgio Moro to reconsider his decision and to thoroughly investigate and prosecute all cases of torture presented in the reports of the MNCPT.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is the main global coalition of NGOs fighting torture and ill-treatment, with over 200 members in more than 90 countries. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

For more information, please contact

Iolanda Jaquemet,
+41 79 539 41 06
(Director of Communications)

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