In the hands of the Supreme Court

What can the court do to change the Drug Law? What can the court do to change the Drug Law?

Brazil will shortly have the opportunity to join the group of nations that have started to dismantle their prohibitionist drug policies, which have notoriously failed in their goal to reduce drug consumption and the violence associated with trafficking. The decision is in the hands of the Supreme Court, which over the next few months will rule on the constitutionality of the Drug Law of 2006.


A debate organized by Conectas in São Paulo will bring together legal and medical experts to discuss the details that will inform and influence the decision of the court justices in this case.


The event will be mediated by the television presenter Cazé Peçanha and the issue will be debated by Luís Fernando Tófoli, a doctor of psychiatry and professor at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) and José Henrique Torres, a judge, professor of criminal law at the Catholic University of Campinas (PUC-Campinas) and former president of the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD).


The event “Why the drug law needs to change”, the third in the “Conectas Culture Dialogues” series, will take place on August 8, in the Eva Hertz Theater of the Livraria Cultura bookstore (Avenida Paulista, 2073). Entrance is free and registration is not necessary.


War on drugs


Conectas has spoken out on several occasions about the problems associated with the Drug Law, particularly the mass incarceration of black youth from Brazil’s poor neighborhoods. As it stated in an amicus curie brief presented together with Pastoral Carcerária, ITTC and Sou da Paz, the law leaves it up to the police to determine who is a drug user and who is a drug dealer, which widens the inequality in the treatment of whites and blacks, rich and poor.


In addition to the debate in the Judiciary, Conectas has also been challenging attempts by the Legislative to crack down on drugs, such as Bill 37 drafted by Congressman Osmar Terra, which proposes to increase prison sentences for drug use.


In March this year, 17 human rights organizations from Latin America denounced the toughening of drug policies in the region at a thematic hearing of the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS). This unprecedented hearing was held against the backdrop of the 2013 signing of the Declaration of Antigua, in which OAS member states committed to putting into practice a comprehensive policy for tackling the problem, with a focus on the reduction of violence and the protection of human rights.

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