UN Human Rights Council ends 53rd regular session; see the main highlights

Brazilian civil society raised the issues of the prison system, public services for drug users and civic space for international debate

Sessão da RPU no Conselho de Direitos da ONU, em Genebra, Suíça. Foto: Arquias Cruz/ Conectas Sessão da RPU no Conselho de Direitos da ONU, em Genebra, Suíça. Foto: Arquias Cruz/ Conectas

The month of July was marked by the ending of the 53rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which was held between June 19 and July 14, in Geneva (Switzerland).

In all, 30 resolutions were passed, including one on new technologies and rights. The UN body features the participation of national States, experts and civil society to address global issues related to human rights.

Brazilian civil society organizations, including Conectas, also made statements and aired complaints at different times during the session. Degrading conditions in the prison system, the situation of Brazilian civic space and the dismantling of public services for drug users were the topics presented by Conectas and other organizations to the international community on the council. See the main highlights:

Human rights violations in Brazilian prisons

Conectas drew the attention of the international community to the deaths that have occurred in Brazilian prisons and the violation of the right to memory, justice and truth of the families of victims of violence in the country.

In its statement, it said the State fails to guarantee the physical and mental integrity of detainees, who suffer from various forms of violence and are denied access to treatment for treatable and eradicated diseases. Moreover, families are frequently not even informed about the hospitalization or death of their loved ones. The organization emphasized the need for the Brazilian State to prevent deaths in the prison system through effective policies, as well as to take responsibility for the integrity of people in its custody. Watch the statement made by Conectas:

Dismantling public services for drug users

Conectas also warned the council about the criminalization of people who abuse alcohol and other drugs and about the dismantling of public services for these people in the state of São Paulo.

According to the organization, initiatives aimed at providing humane care for these people are facing ever greater setbacks: the dismantling of public treatment facilities and attempts to criminalize the practice of harm reduction.

“After the closure of one of the main treatment centers in São Paulo, more than 460 compulsory internments in Therapeutic Communities were facilitated by the use of cameras installed in the area known as Cracolândia [Crackland],” said the representative of Conectas at the UN. Watch the statement in full: 

Dialogue with the rapporteur on free association 

In another statement, six Brazilian organizations thanked the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, for his visit to Brazil in April 2022.

The statement was signed by the organizations Conectas, Justiça Global, Institute for Development and Human Rights, Terra de Direitos, the Criminal Justice Network and Article 19 Brazil. 

The organizations also asked the rapporteur to urge the Brazilian State to respect the obligations and commitments assumed in relation to the respect and expansion of Brazilian civic space and the recommendations made in the report produced by the office of the rapporteur.

Released in July 2023, the UN expert’s report on Brazil calls for a swift investigation of the Marielle case, measures to guarantee the rights of indigenous and traditional peoples, and consideration of international human rights standards in laws dealing with terrorism.

Resolutions approved

One of the 30 resolutions approved in the session addresses new technologies and human rights, highlighting the importance of respecting, protecting and promoting human rights throughout the whole life cycle of artificial intelligence systems. 

Another of the approved resolutions deals with human rights and climate change. The text urges States that have not yet ratified or acceded to the Paris Agreement to do so; it determines that the annual panel discussion to be held at the fifty-sixth session will focus on ensuring livelihood resilience in the context of the risk of loss and damage related to the adverse effects of climate change; and it asks the Secretary-General to conduct an analytical study on the impact of loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights. The complete list of approved resolutions can be found at this link.

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