UN (United Nations) experts criticised the São Paulo Governor, João Doria’s decision to veto the law approved in December 2018 by Alesp (São Paulo Legislative Assembly), that would have established a state mechanism to prevent and combat torture.
In the note, the subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Working Group for Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Torture recalled that, by ratifying OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture), Brazil had made a commitment to create national mechanisms for the prevention and combat of torture.
The mechanism is an organ composed of independent experts who have free access to any place of deprivation of liberty. Through inspections, members of the mechanism can request inquiries, make appraisals, produce reports, make recommendations, organise data and suggest public policies.
“The establishment of independent torture prevention mechanisms is one of the most effective ways of protecting those in detention from ill-treatment, and is a way of guaranteeing them their right to a fair trial and the rule of law of the country. Brazil’s federal government is under an international legal obligation to ensure that this happens.” The UN experts claim in the note.
Federal law 12.847 that guarantees the creation of a national mechanism and proposes the creation of state mechanisms, was approved in 2013. Alagoas, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Sergipe, Rio de Janeiro and Rondônia already have state mechanisms. The law vetoed by Doria has been being processed in Alespo since 2014.
“São Paulo is the state with the highest prison population in the country, with the third highest prison population in the world. The creation of mechanisms would allow civil society to monitor what goes on behind bars and to present recommendations to the state.” Said Rafael Custódio, Coordinator of Institutional Violence at Conectas.
“Governor Doria’s veto shows that the state has no interest in discussing such an important subject with society, nor in allowing independent monitoring. The state is lagging behind the other nine Brazilian states that already have state mechanisms and shows a disregard for national law and the international commitments made by Brazil, that call for the creation of this organ, with social participation.” Custódio explained.
In the note, UN experts urge Alesp to reverse the governor’s veto.
“We hope that Brazil will be able to continue to abide by its international obligations, reverse this decision and remain committed to the fight against torture.” Said Sir Malcolm Evans, the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT).