Less unequal

Manifestação contra PEC das Cotas. Manifestação contra PEC das Cotas.

The São Paulo justice system took an important step towards becoming marginally more democratic on Thursday (October 30), with the approval of racial quotas by the Public Defender’s Office.

On November 7, the Office will begin to debate the details of how to implement the quotas, when the new rules will start to apply and the criteria for regulating the process.

“Today’s vote puts the Office on the right path towards delivering social justice. We hope that this example will be quickly multiplied,” said Rafael Custódio, coordinator of the Justice program at Conectas. “Under the current model, we have a standard public defender whose profile does not represent the reality of the country. This inequality limits the construction of a more democratic and pluralistic justice system.”

According to census data from the CNJ (National Justice Council) released in June, just 15.6% of Brazilian judges are black. And, in Brazil’s higher courts, this figure falls to less than 10%.

Close call

The initiative was proposed by the Ombudsman of the São Paulo Public Defender’s Office, its Center for Combating Discrimination and Racism and the Luiz Gama Institute.

The vote in the Higher Council of the Public Defender’s Office on racial quotas began on October 23, but the decision was postponed for a week after one of the members requested more time to analyze the case.

Today’s session began with a wide lead for the ‘yes’ votes, but the margin was narrowed by the opposing positions of Pedro Avellar, Luiz Coelho, Horácio Xavier and Alexandre Orsi. After criticizing the proposed quotas, the council members abstained from voting on the merit of the case and the final result stood at 6 to 0. The following members had already voted in favor of the quotas for public defenders: Bruno Napolitano, Luis Fontanetti, Kathya Beja, Wagner de Oliveira, Augusto Barbosa and Bruno Miragaia. None of them changed their positions.

The approval was celebrated by representatives of social movements and civil society organizations that supported the proposal. Conectas, together with the Justice and Human Rights (JUSDH) group and the Center for Studies on Labor Relations and Inequalities, submitted a report to the Higher Council of the Public Defender’s Office defending the creation of these affirmative action policies.

Recently, a number of jurists published a manifesto in favor of racial quotas for the public entrance examinations for Public Defenders in São Paulo.

Click here to read (in Portuguese) the article published at Conjur on Affirmative Action for Public Defenders

Click here to read (in Portuguese) the full report by Conectas, JUSDH and CEERT

Click here to read (in Portuguese) the manifesto by jurists in favor of racial quotas for Public Defenders

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