Published on March 6, 2012. Updated on March 13, 2012
Conectas, Justiça Global and Pastoral Carcerária requested today (March 3) that the Brazilian government publish the recommendations addressed to the country by the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), which were officially sent to Brazil on February 8.
The SPT visited Brazil in September 2011. The subcommittee had contact with Brazilian authorities and civil society representatives, and it visited detention centers, prisons, internment centers for young offenders and other facilities. The monitoring of torture and mistreatment in the Brazilian prison system was conducted in accordance with the rules established by the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).
According to OPCAT, the recommendations are communicated confidentially to the State, which may decide to make them public. Based on the constitutional right of access to information and the recently passed Freedom of Information Law, the organizations have requested that the recommendations be made public.
On March 12, Paulo Abrão, Brazil’s National Secretary of Justice, informed the press that the government will publish the recommendations contained in the document. (Listen to the statement made by Abrão, to Leandro Melito of the Brasil Atual news network)
In the letter delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of Human Rights, the organizations pointed out that the recently passed Freedom of Information Law establishes a new legal framework in which transparency is the rule and secrecy the exception. “By adopting the new freedom of information law, the Brazilian State has chosen to move towards overcoming the culture of government opaqueness and the consolidation of the democratic rule of law. Given this situation, not publishing the recommendations would be a setback,” said Juana Kweitel, Program Director at Conectas.
The law explicitly establishes the requirement to publish documents concerning human rights violations: “All information or documents addressing conducts that involve human rights violations perpetrated by public agents or at the behest of public authorities may not be classified as restricted” (article 21, sole paragraph).
“The publication of the UN report is essential for a better understanding of our record in relation to torture and it provides benchmarks for overcoming this evil that still persists institutionally,” said José de Jesus Filho, of the National Board of Pastoral Carcerária. “We hope that the recommendations contained in the report will be implemented swiftly by the Brazilian government at a federal, state and municipal level, and we can only monitor this process if we know what the recommendations are,” added Sandra Carvalho, Executive Director of Justiça Global.