During the opening of the 8th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the UN, on June 2, the Rapporteur of the United Nations for Summary, Arbitrary and Extrajudicial Executions, Philip Alston, presented a preliminary report on the visit he made to Brazil in November 2007. The definitive report will be presented in early July 2008. Click here to see the preliminary report (in English).
Before this presentation, Conectas Human Rights, Gajop and Justiça Global sent a document to the HRC, to Alston and to the delegations of the country members of the Council, emphasizing the importance of the Rapporteur's recommendations and the need for their effective implementation in Brazil (click here to see the document, in English).
The organizations highlighted that many of these recommendations are not new and that Brazil has not been giving due attention to the implementation of these recommendations, made not only by the UN rapporteurs but also by its Treaty Bodies in recent years.
In his preliminary report, Philip Alston highlighted that "homicide is the leading cause of death for persons between 15 and 44 years of age. For some time now, between 45,000 and 50,000 homicides are committed every year in Brazil. Although these killings have sown widespread fear and insecurity among the general population, remarkably little is done in the vast majority of such cases to investigate, prosecute and convict the culprits. In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, only about 10 per cent of homicides are tried in the courts; in Pernambuco, it is about 3 per cent. Of the 10 per cent tried in São Paulo, about 50 per cent are actually convicted".
Alston also pointed out concerns about the prison conditions, as the "lack of external oversight permits poor conditions and abuses to continue". "The prison conditions in Brazil are shameful and have gotten worse throughout the last decades, because of the increase in the number of inmates. It's imperative that Brazil adopt alternatives to incarceration as punishment and improve its public defense system", affirms Eloisa Machado, a lawyer at Conectas.
At the end, the report presents a group of recommendations on several themes, including the investigation of homicides committed by the police, police remuneration, crime scene experts, victim and witness protection, the Office of Inspector General and prison conditions.
The report presentation can be seen at the UN webcast.