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Justice Lewandowski receives UN human rights expert


Monday, August 3th, 2015

The Chief Justice of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) and President of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), Ricardo Lewandowski, received on Monday a delegation of the United Nations (UN), led by the Argentine Human Rights expert Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture. He is in Brazil to verify the measures taken by the State to prevent and combat torture and other cruel treatments in prisons.

Mendez explained that his view on torture is wide, and reaches not only the intentional violence in interrogation or as a punishment, but also degrading treatment and voluntary or involuntary abuse in prisons, custodial locations, social and educational units and judicial asylums and also the excessive use of police force. "Brazil has had an attitude of cooperation with all United Nations procedures on human rights, but, despite its efforts to promote the Rule of Law and the deepening of democracy, some serious problems remain in this area," he said.

At the meeting, Minister Lewandowski spoke about the CNJ participation in the area of human rights of the prisoners and said that the country faces a difficult situation, with a prison population of about 600 000 people, of which approximately 240 thousand are on pre-trial detention. He explained that the Judiciary is not responsible for the prison system, but seeks to use its modest influence on the condition of the prisoners with projects such as the Custody Hearing, the Mutirão Carcerário (prisoners’ review) and the Citizenship in Prison, dedicated to the follow-up of ex-prisoners of the system after the end of their sentence.

Mendez showed interest in the details of the Custody Hearing Project, especially in the aspects related to the possibility of torture. Minister Lewandowski said he believes that the fact that the prisoner will be presented to a judge within 24 hours will reduce the cases of violence during and soon after the arrest. He clarified that, if the judge verifies signs of mistreatment or violence, he shall immediately direct the prisoner to the Legal Medical Institute and report the fact to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and, depending on the case, to the Public Defender's Office.

The visit of the UN Special Rapporteur to the STF is part of an agenda of 12 days, which includes meetings with authorities, entities focused on human rights, civil society organizations and victims of torture and their families and also visits to police stations and prisons, which will result in the submission of a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

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