Decree in the Chamber reverts undermining of Mechanism to Combat Torture

Draft legislative decree passed by committee, suspends a decree by Bolsonaro that, in practice, would abolish the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture

Foto: Reprodução/CNJ Foto: Reprodução/CNJ

On Tuesday (14) the text of a draft legislative decree was passed by the Chamber´s Committee for Labour, Administration and Public Service (CTASP). This suspends the effects of the 2019 presidential decree that, among other effects, deemed the work of the experts of the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture (MNPCT) ´the provision of relevant unpaid public services´. 

With just four opposing votes, the members of the Committee passed decree 389/2019, written by congresswoman Maria do Rosário, who alleges that President Jair Bolsonaro overstepped his prerogative by changing the way in which the MNPCT functions, by means of decree (n° 9.831/19), which is in contravention of Act 12.847/13, that established the National System for the Prevention and Combat of Torture in Brazil.

“In practice, by determining that the work of the members of the MNPCT would be unpaid, the government forced the organ to be completely dismantled, in direct violation of the national and international obligations attached to the financial support of the organ, established in both article 18.1 of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), and in article 12 of Act n° 12.847/13, that regulates OPCAT requirements in the country”, the rapporteur of the draft, congresswoman Erika Kokay said.

The text will now be passed to the Chamber Committee for Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJC).

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The 11 independent experts selected by the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture occupy the position for three years with the possibility of renewing for another three years.  They have unrestricted access to deprivation of liberty facilities, such as detention centres, penal facilities, psychiatric hospitals, old people´s homes, correctional institutions and military centres for disciplinary detention. When violations are identified the experts submit reports with recommendations to the relevant authorities who can use them to take appropriate action.

In June 2019, a presidential decree relieved the experts of their positions and deemed their activities unpaid work – a measure that in practice, removed all the MNPCT´s authority and led to repudiation by civil society and even by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights). In August of the same year, a decision by the Federal Justice of Rio de Janeiro suspended the measure and reinstated the experts.

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