“Combatting torture is fundamental to our project for the country”, says Minister Silvio Almeida at the UN

Brazil undergoes a review by the UN Committee Against Torture and is committed to tackling rights violations in the prison system

Silvio Almeida assumiu o compromisso de combater à tortura no Brasil durante revisão do Brasil em comitê da ONU (Foto: Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP) Silvio Almeida assumiu o compromisso de combater à tortura no Brasil durante revisão do Brasil em comitê da ONU (Foto: Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP)

The Minister for Human Rights and Citizenship, Silvio Almeida, the head of Brazil´s delegation at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva (Switzerland), committed the Brazilian state to the combat of torture and other human rights violations and to respecting the memories of victims of the military dictatorship. During a statement on Wednesday (19), the minister said that tackling torture is central in the construction of democracy in the country.  

This week the United Nations Committee Against Torture held a review of measures adopted by Brazil to combat the practice of torture in the country. A review of all the countries that signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture is carried out periodically. The last assessment undergone by the country was 20 years ago. 

In his statement, Almeida said that the Brazilian prison system – which targets poor black communities – needs to be profoundly reviewed and humanised”. To this end, he announced “efforts to set up what has been dubbed ‘Projeto Mandela’, with the aim of making progress in tackling systemic human rights violations in the Brazilian prison system”.

According to the head of the Ministry of Human Rights, “the Project focuses on inter-ministerial and cross-sector actions to promote human rights, in order to defend the rights of those who have been deprived of liberty, particularly in terms of appropriate legal procedures to tackle torture and to promote decarceration policies, based on national and international legislative provisions”.

The lawyer, Carolina Diniz, Coordinator of the Conectas Tackling Institutional Violence Programme, said that “the stance adopted by the minister is radically different from the one taken by the previous government on the matter of combatting torture and acknowledges the need to make urgent progress in this area”. According to her, “this is an opportunity for Brazilian civil society organisations to start a conversation and to demand a commitment by federal government. Furthermore, there is a need to involve the National Council of Justice and the National Council of the Public Prosecutor´s Office, who are on the Brazilian government mission in Geneva”. 

In his speech, Almeida also mentioned recent actions taken by the Ministry with the aim of: resuming the “quest for truth, memory and justice” in Brazil, “vilified over the last few years by the previous government”; revising the composition of the Commission for Amnesty; reinstating the Special Commission into Deaths and Disappearances and to be committed to heeding the conclusions of the National Truth Commission, which completed its report in 2014.

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