Conectas Human Rights, the Catholic Church’s Pastoral Carcerária prison care program, the Sou da Paz Institute and the Land, Employment and Citizenship Institute (ITTC) have been accepted as amici curiae by Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes in an appeal that questions the constitutionality of article 28 of the Brazil’s Drug Law (Law No. 11343/2006), which establishes the prohibition of drug consumption.
The Special Appeal No. 365,359 pending before the Supreme Court was filed by the Public Defender’s Office of the State of São Paulo. It asks for the article of the law that prohibits the consumption of narcotics to be declared unconstitutional.
The brief submitted by the organizations presents the track record of the global policy to combat drugs and gives details of Brazil’s position in this context. It also provides data from empirical research on the impacts of the Drug Law on criminal justice and the prison system.
By presenting the results of this policy of criminalization and stigmatization of narcotics users, the organizations are providing important information for the Supreme Court to decide on the (un)constitutionality of the aforementioned article 28. The data demonstrate that the Drug Law ends up punishing youth, blacks, the poor and, as a rule, first-time offenders. The data also show that narcotics trafficking and consumption has continued to rise ever since the law came into effect, illustrating that the criminal crackdown has not been an effective way for the State to tackle this issue.
“We have noticed that Brazilian society is more open to discuss this issue in a mature and dogma free manner, which is of fundamental importance,” said Rafael Custódio, a lawyer and coordinator of the Justice Program at Conectas. “The Supreme Court is in a position to stage a serious debate on the matter, and the participation of civil society is fundamental to enrich the debate.”
Other organizations have also been accepted as amici curiae: the Defense of the Right of Defense Institute (IDDD), IBCCrim, Viva Rio, the Brazilian Commission on Drugs and Democracy (CBDD) and the Brazilian Association of Social Studies on Use of Psychoactive Drugs (Abesup).
the amicus curiae submission of Conectas, Pastoral Carcerária, Sou da Paz and ITTC. (only in Portuguese)