Of all the human rights violations associated with Brazil’s prison policy and justice system, there is one that stands out on account of its profound impact on the right to a defense and on the enforcement of prison sentences: the indiscriminate and excessive use of pre-trial detention, which deprives suspects of their freedom until their case is heard – a period that, in some cases, can exceed the length of the sentence.
A new report by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS) claims that this is a chronic problem in the Americas. The document, produced by the Rapporteurship on the Right of Persons Deprived of Liberty, will be released in Portuguese on September 5, at 10 am, at the University of São Paulo Law School.
The IACHR points out that the number of pre-trial detentions in the Americas increased 27.7% between 2009 and 2012, and that 27.2% of the people serving time in prison without a trial are between 18 of 24 years old. In some countries, such as Bolivia, pre-trial detainees represent 80% of all prisoners. In Brazil, according to data collected by the IACHR from the federal government, the figure stands at 37.6% (not including people held in police stations).
“According to international human rights law, detaining a person prior to the enactment of a final judgment should be the exception and not the rule, precisely because of the right to the presumption of innocence,” reads an excerpt from the report. “It is, therefore, a distortion of the rule of law and of the criminal justice system for pre-trial detention to be used as an anticipated sentence.”
The launch of the report will be overseen by James Cavallaro, the current IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty. Also present will be Renato Vitto, director of Depen (National Prison Department), Luis Lanfredi, coordinator of DMF/CNJ (Department of Monitoring and Control of the Prison System and the System for Enforcing Youth Offender Rehabilitation Measures of the National Justice Council), Sandra Carvalho, associate director of the NGO Justiça Global, and Rogério Taffarello, an expert in criminal law.
The event, which is open to the public, is being organized by the Criminal Justice Network, the University of São Paulo Law School and the Prison Situation Center of the Public Defender’s Office of São Paulo.
Click here to read the IACHR report in full.
Launch :: “Report on the use of pre-trial detention in the Americas”
Date: September 5, from 10 am to midday
Venue: University of São Paulo Law School – Dino Bueno Hall (3rd floor)
James Cavallaro – IACHR Rapporteur
Renato De Vitto – Director of the National Prison Department
Luis Lanfredi – Coordinator of the Department of Monitoring and Control of the Prison System and the System for Enforcing Youth Offender Rehabilitation Measures of the CNJ
Sandra Carvalho – Justiça Global
Rogério Taffarello – Expert in Criminal Law
Registration is not necessary.