Covid-19: what Conectas has been doing for the protection of rights

The times require solidarity with our neighbors and swift responses

(Brasília - DF, 24/03/2020) A Rodoviária do Plano Piloto, um dos maiores centros de concentração de pessoas da capital federal, tem sua rotina alterada devido aos cuidados contra o COVID-19.Foto: Isac Nóbrega (Brasília - DF, 24/03/2020) A Rodoviária do Plano Piloto, um dos maiores centros de concentração de pessoas da capital federal, tem sua rotina alterada devido aos cuidados contra o COVID-19.Foto: Isac Nóbrega

Given the spread of the new coronavirus in Brazil, Conectas has been acting swiftly and firmly to address situations that are being overlooked by the Brazilian government or to resist the abusive measures it has been taking on the pretext of combating the pandemic.

Besides looking after our own staff, by providing full support in adapting to remote work, our focus has been on the most vulnerable populations, workers, migrants and prisoners. We have also worked to protect the country’s democratic institutions. A government like the one of President Bolsonaro has taken an authoritarian response to the pandemic, attempting to restrict transparency and social participation, including in the other branches of government.

In view of the burden on the public health services, Conectas and its partners filed in the Supreme Court a petition for the immediate suspension of Constitutional Amendment 95 – the one that imposes a federal spending cap on public services. Also looking out for the most economically vulnerable population, we supported the Campaign for an Emergency Basic Income. Together with Oxfam, we presented our challenges to Provisional Executive Order 927 that weakens employment regulations and places the burden of the crisis on workers. We also appeared as amicus curiae in the Supreme Court, together with the organizations InPacto and ADERE/MG, in the case against Provisional Executive Order 936, another step taken by the federal government to relax labor rights during the pandemic.

Furthermore, we are calling for measures to contain the effects of Covid-19 among the Brazilian prison population, which is already the third largest in the world. Despite the fact that the National Justice Council has issued a strong recommendation for decarceration measures in order to reduce contagion in prison facilities, the authorities remain resistant. We presented, via the Criminal Justice Network, a list of urgent measures to be adopted. Together with other amici curiae in the Supreme Court, we presented our position on ADPF Case 347, which addresses the “Unconstitutional State of Affairs in the Prison System” by requesting urgent measures to ensure the health of prisoners and prison officers. Additionally, we helped the MNPCT and CNPCT (respectively, the National Mechanism and the National Committee to Combat and Prevent Torture) to issue decisive recommendations to this effect.

We also denounced the disproportionate measures affecting migrants and refugees, such as Ministerial Orders 120 and 125 of the Chief of Staff establishing the partial closure of Brazil’s borders. In a joint statement with partners, we warned of the authoritarian nature of the orders, which eliminate basic rights such as due process for deportations and permit Brazil to return people to countries where their lives are at risk due to political or religious persecution.

Together with the organizations that form the Pact for Democracy, we condemned the speech given by Bolsonaro in which he called on people to break quarantine and we responded in the press against Provisional Executive Order 928, which in practice suspends the Freedom of Information Law.

The times are extremely challenging for the whole world, but they require solidarity with our neighbors, swift responses to the acts and omissions of the State and a great deal of resilience. The staff at Conectas are working hard to protect the rights of those who need them most. That is why we support the most important recommendation to combat the pandemic: #StayAtHome!

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