July 27, 2011
On July 8, civil society organizations participated in the last regional pre-conference of the São Paulo State Public Defender’s Office, which was held in the city of São Paulo. At this meeting, attended by 80 people from civil society, Conectas presented proposals on four of the nine topics discussed: the prison system; promotion and defense of the rights of women; childhood and youth; and institutional policy and education in human rights.
Four proposals related to the prison system were put forward by Conectas, in partnership with Pastoral Carcerária and the Institiuto Praxis, and approved at the pre-conference:
1) Guarantee prisoners access to information on their legal situation, prioritizing periodic visitation, replying to correspondence and implementing self-service terminals for consulting the progress of legal cases inside prisons;
2) Seek the release of all pre-trial prisoners, regardless of either the seriousness of the crime or the likelihood of it being granted;
3) Facilitate access to the Public Defender’s Office for the families of prisoners, prioritizing telephone and email contact, particularly for families living far from where the Office provides its personalized services;
4) Work to banish the crime of torture from the prison system, submitting cases to the proper authorities and demanding the adoption of preventative measures.
These proposals will now be debated in the São Paulo State Conference, which will be held on August 12 and 13, 2011, in the São Paulo City Council.
During the event, Conectas was also elected to participate in the São Paulo State Conference. “The Conference is an opportunity for civil society to really influence the guidelines of the Public Defender’s Office,” said Vivian Calderoni, lawyer at Conectas and the delegate elected to participate in the State Conference.
About the pre-conferences and the State Conference
This regional pre-conference attended by Conectas is one of 22 other such conferences that have been held throughout the state of São Paulo since May. The purpose of this first stage is to identify the main concerns of civil society for the Public Defender’s Office and to give the population the opportunity to help define the parameters that will shape the working priorities of the Office over the next two years.
In each pre-conference, 20 proposals are chosen following discussions between the participants based on nine key topics. These proposals will then be addressed at the State Conference.
The pre-conferences also elect delegates to represent the proposals in the State Conference. In this second stage, the selected delegates from across the state approve the guidelines for the Office’s Annual Working Plan. Once defined, the Plan is submitted for approval by the Higher Council.