Three days after requesting – together with the Maranhão State Society of Human Rights and Justiça Global – federal intervention at the Pedrinhas prison and the federalization of the human rights violations that have already occurred there, Conectas sent another letter to the Brazilian Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot. This time, the organization expressed its support for the decision of the Attorney General’s Office to finally forward the request for intervention to the Supreme Court. Conectas also requested a hearing with Janot.
“If the news is confirmed, we feel sure that this distinguished body will not only be exercising a valuable prerogative, provided for in the Brazilian Constitution, but also be acting effectively to achieve one of the fundamental objectives of the Republic: the dignity of the human person (article 1, III of the Constitution),” reads an excerpt from the letter sent today.
The request for intervention is based on article 34 of the Brazilian Constitution, which establishes the right of the federal government to intervene in the states in cases of serious breakdowns of public order and to ensure the observance of the rights of the human person. The request for federalization, meanwhile, is based on article 109 of the Constitution, which was added by Constitutional Amendment No. 45 of 2004.
Omission by the authorities
The assertive attitude of the Attorney General’s Office contrasts, in the opinion of Conectas, with the reserved attitude of the Governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney, and the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.
“The governor is omissive and flirting with frivolity. The inhuman conditions at the Pedrinhas prison were known more than a year ago, when the Public Prosecutor’s Office called for action. Why did the highest authority of the state not take action then? Why did it let this happen?” asked Lucia Nader, executive director of Conectas.
“We had hoped for a much more decisive declaration from President Rousseff. ‘Following carefully’, as she said on Twitter, is hardly an attitude that discourages violations or implies that those responsible will be held to account. Unfortunately, we are accustomed to these reserved declarations from the head of the Executive in cases of serious human rights violations in Brazil,” said Nader.
Visit to Maranhão
Conectas will send a lawyer on a mission next week to the Maranhão state capital of São Luís, where 62 inmates have been killed in the Pedrinhas prison since the start of 2013 – some of them dissected while still alive and decapitated. The decision was taken by the organization today, after close contact with its partner organizations and in response to a request by the Maranhão State Society of Human Rights.
Listen to the full news conference given on January 9 by the Minister of Justice, Eduardo Cardozo, and by the Governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney. See also the news release published on January 9 by the Council for the Defense of the Rights of the Human Person, of the Federal Office of Human Rights.