In Supreme Court, organizations call for protection for prisoners against Covid-19

More than 100 experts sign a letter requesting urgent measures to protect this risk group from the pandemic; document accompanies the case in the court

Concerned with the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country, more than 100 organizations have published an open letter to the Supreme Court calling for urgent measures to address Covid-19 in the prison system. The document, which is also signed by three former justice ministers, accompanies a precautionary measure filed on Friday, March 27.

In the letter, the experts emphasize the unhealthy conditions and constant violations of fundamental rights in prisons across the country. “The coexistence of several people in a small space accentuates a series of dehumanizing complexities, such as the lack of access to personal hygiene materials and to medical assistance and medicines, not to mention the rationing of water and food with poor nutritional value.

In 2015, the Supreme Court recognized the prison system as an “Unconstitutional State of Affairs” in ADPF (Allegation of Violation of a Fundamental Precept) Case No. 347, given the constant violations of fundamental rights of people deprived of liberty. In this context, the organizations are asking the Judiciary to guarantee constitutional guarantees, by taking real measures for the decarceration of the most at-risk groups to the virus.

“As it becomes more evident every day given the news about the pandemic, the situation requires joint and coordinated action by all the institutions responsible for social well-being. In this regard, the Judiciary can, in its rulings, intervene in executive and legislative functions with humanitarian repercussions,” they said.

The letter accompanies a precautionary measure filed in the Supreme Court by PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party), the Public Defender’s Offices from the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Conectas Human Rights and IBCCRIM (Brazilian Criminal Sciences Institute). The case, addressed to Justice Marco Aurélio Mello, the rapporteur of ADPF 347, lists a series of measures to be taken by the Executive – federal and state – and the Judiciary, such as ending water rationing in prisons and providing hygiene and cleaning items for the cells and for clothing, as well as the immediate decarceration of people in the risk group for Covid-19.

>>> Read the open letter in full

>>> Access the precautionary measure here

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