Coup in the CNPCP

Ministry of Justice places limits on the body responsible for prison policy

01/26/2017 cnpcp coup ministry of justice prisons

In the midst of the worst wave of violence in the Brazilian prison system since the Carandiru massacre in 1992, the Ministry of Justice has intervened to reduce the power of the CNPCP (National Criminal and Prison Policy Council).
In a directive published on January 19, the Ministry of Justice added eight new alternate members to the Council. Since all the members are directly appointed by Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes, the change, according to some members, would give the government a greater influence over the decisions of the Council.
On the same day, the Presidency of the Republic published a decree establishing the Commission to Reform the National Prison System. The decree determines that two members of the CNPCP will serve on the Commission, but the choice of these members will be made exclusively by the Minister of Justice.
“The two initiatives are clearly intended to undermine the autonomy of the Council and to restrict the work of its members at one of the most critical times in the history of our prison system,” said Juana Kweitel, executive director of Conectas. “The greatest virtue of an advisory body like the CNPCP is precisely its independence. The Ministry of Justice was wrong to trample its members with unilateral decisions,” she added.
In response to these initiatives, the president of the CNPCP Alamiro Salvador Neto and another six members resigned their positions yesterday, January 25. On the morning of Thursday, the 26th, the lawyer Marcos Fuchs, associate director of Conectas and director of the Pro Bono Institute, also resigned his position on the Council. His resignation was made in an official correspondence to the Minister of Justice.
The CNPCP was created in 1980 and is formed by 13 members. It is responsible for monitoring prison conditions and for proposing improvements to prison oversight standards and to the country’s prison policy.