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Justice Lewandowski receives UN human rights expert

Chief Justice of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) and president of the National Justice Council (CNJ), Ricardo Lewandowski, received a delegation of the United Nations (UN), led by the Argentine expert on human rights Juan E. Méndez, special rapporteur of the UN on torture. He is in Brazil to verify the measures taken by the state to prevent and combat torture and other cruel treatment in brazilian prisons.

Méndez explained that his view on torture is comprehensive and includes not only intentional violence in interrogation or punishment but also degrading treatments and voluntary or involuntary mistreatments in penitentiaries, safe houses, socio-educational units and judicial asylums and also excessive use of police force. "Brazil has had an attitude of cooperation with all UN human rights procedures, but despite its efforts to promote the rule of law and the deepening of democracy, serious problems remain in this area," he said.

At the meeting, justice Lewandowski spoke about the CNJ's human rights work and recalled that the country faces a difficult situation with a prison population of about 600,000 people, of which approximately 240,000 are provisional prisoners. He explained that the judiciary is not responsible for the prison system, but seeks to exert its influence, albeit modest, on the condition of prisoners with projects such as the hearing of custody, the prison help and citizenship in prisons, aimed at monitoring the prisoners after the sentence has been served.

Méndez showed interest in the details of the Custody Hearing Project, especially in aspects related to the possibility of torture. Justice Lewandowski said he believed that the fact that the detainee was brought to the court within 24 hours would reduce cases of violence during and shortly after the arrest. And he clarified that if the judge finds signs of mistreatment or violence, he should send the guardian immediately to the Medical Legal Institute and report it to the Public Prosecutor's Office and, if applicable, the Public Defender's Office.

The UN special rapporteur's visit to the Supreme Court is part of a 12-day agenda, which includes meetings with authorities, human rights entities, civil society organizations and victims of torture and their families, as well as visits to police stations and which will result in the submission of a report to the UN Human Rights Council.


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