Blog: Justica Global

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September 28, 2015

Coalizão demanda investigação federal em audiência na OEA sobre violência, corrupção no Complexo Prisional Aníbal Bruno (Curado)

PRESS RELEASE

 

Coalizão demanda investigação federal em audiência na OEA sobre violência, corrupção no Complexo Prisional Aníbal Bruno (Curado)

 

Lista de mais de 500 vítimas será apresentada à Corte IDH

28 de setembro de 2015, San José, Costa Rica – O Estado brasileiro aparecerá hoje perante a Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos para prestar esclarecimentos sobre o alto número de violações de direitos humanos dentro do Complexo Prisional Aníbal Bruno (renomeado Complexo do Curado), que vem se agravando desde que a Corte determinou a imposição de medidas provisórias em maio de 2014. A coalizão de entidades de direitos humanos que levaram o caso à OEA demanda uma investigação penal federal sobre violência e corrupção no local, tendo preparado novas evidências – incluindo fotografias, vídeos e uma lista com mais de 500 vítimas de morte e/ou violência.  Ontem, as falhas do Estado no Complexo geraram mais vítimas durante um tumulto, com Ricardo Alves, residente próximo ao presídio, morrendo de “bala perdida” e dois presos sendo baleados.

O Aníbal Bruno é um retrato emblemático das muitas aflições que assolam os sistemas prisionais latino-americanos. O notório presídio é representativo de uma convergência de fatores que frequentemente caminham juntos, como violência, tortura, acesso à saúde deficiente, superencarceramento e denúncias de corrupção, todos registrados em um mesmo local. Desde os estágios iniciais do caso, a coalizão de organizações que monitoram o presídio tem constantemente sustentado que o Estado falhou ao não abordar de maneira apropriada e efetiva tais problemas, trazendo à luz extensiva documentação dos abusos cometidos.

Durante a audiência, que será transmitida ao vivo no site da Corte às 14hs, horário de Brasília, a coalizão irá disponibilizar fotos, vídeos e outras provas apresentadas no website arquivoanibal.weebly.com.

A Comissão Interamericana de Direitos Humanos começou a monitorar o Complexo Aníbal Bruno em 2011. Duante quatro anos, a coalizão catalogou violações à dignidade humana dos presos, funcionários e visitantes do Complexo. Um preso, por exemplo, relatou em fevereiro de 2015 que, em função da superlotação, dormia amarrado às barras que revestem a cela, por meio de uma rede improvisada. O encarceramento de mais de 7 mil indivíduos em um espaço com capacidade para menos de 1,9 mil pessoas é reflexo não somente da situação calamitosa do sistema prisional pernambucano, que possui uma das piores taxas de encarceramento no Brasil, mas também de uma realidade prisional nacional que historicamente encarcera violando direitos.

A coalização de organizações de direitos humanos responsáveis pelo caso compreende a Pastoral Carcerária, o Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões – SEMPRI, a Justiça Global e a Clínica Internacional de Direitos Humanos da Faculdade de Direito de Harvard.

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June 29, 2015

Coalition of Prison Monitors Urges Lifting of Camera Ban in Pernambuco, Brazil

Posted by Fernando Ribeiro Delgado

The coalition of civil society representatives in the Aníbal Bruno (Curado) Prison litigation before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a statement urging the government of Pernambuco, Brazil, to rescind its prohibition on the use of cameras during prison inspections. The camera ban has impeded the collection of evidence of human rights abuses at the prison.

Overcrowded security cell in Aníbal Prison Complex - 2013 - Colette van der Ven

Colette van der Ven, a clinical student, sketched this overcrowded security cell in Aníbal Prison Complex after the camera ban was put in place in  2012.

The prohibition was first enforced just a few months after the coalition’s publication of the case files of the Aníbal Bruno litigation this past February. The case files—partially redacted to preserve privacy, security, and investigatory integrity—provide an alarming picture of chronic violence, torture, lack of access to healthcare, and arbitrary detention at the notorious prison. Photographic evidence is vital to documenting the realities of the Aníbal Bruno Complex, which incarcerates nearly 7000 men in space designated for roughly 2000.

This is not the first time the coalition has faced a camera ban in Pernambuco. In 2012, a similar prohibition hindered efforts to gather evidence in numerous cases, including that of a severely injured Aníbal prisoner who reported being raped by officers.

A photograph of the same cell block in 2014, after the camera ban was lifted.

A photograph of the same cell block in 2014, after the camera ban was lifted.

 

Prison administrators lifted that ban in 2013, after the coalition used drawings by a clinical student to publicly expose abuses at Aníbal Bruno.

The civil society coalition litigating the case is comprised of Pastoral Carcerária (Catholic Prison Ministry), Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões (Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons), Justiça Global (Global Justice), and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.

 

Read the coalition’s full statement, which was released last Friday, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (translated from Portuguese):

June 26, 2015

After photos revealed torture practiced by United States personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, authorities appeared more concerned with obscuring than responding. They prohibited cameras. They offered amnesty to those who handed over other photographs, later refusing to make them public. They did not prosecute any high level official, but they publicly exposed the name of the soldier who turned in the embarrassing evidence, effectively condemning him to fear reprisals.

This Friday, we remember the International Day in Support of Torture Victims repudiating this type of inverted logic in Brazil. Since May 18, members of our coalition of human rights organizations have been forbidden from entering with cameras at the Aníbal Bruno Prison Complex (officially renamed “Complexo do Curado”) in Recife. The coalition—composed of the Pastoral Carcerária [Catholic Prison Ministry], Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões [Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons], Justiça Global [Global Justice] and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard University—has already met twice with high-level Pernambuco government officials without being able to reverse this prohibition.

Photography is explicitly provided for in the United Nations Istanbul Protocol, an internationally recognized methodology for documenting torture cases. Resolution No. 1 of February 7, 2013, of the National Council on Criminal and Penitentiary Policy determines that “the use audiovisual and photographic recording instruments is permitted … by … civil society, which serve the function of monitoring the penitentiary system and defending human rights, with the purpose of informing reports on inspection, monitoring and visits to prison establishments.” The government insisted on the ban anyway.

Aníbal Bruno Complex is one of the main symbols of the crisis of the Brazilian prison system. It recently underwent three rebellions. It incarcerates nearly 7,000 men in space designated for approximately 2,000 and has an extremely reduced number of staff working in precarious conditions. Over the past four years, our coalition sent hundreds of complaints of violence and torture, denial of access to healthcare and other abuses in the Complex to the Organization of American States (OAS).

In light of this scenario, on May 22, 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the OAS determined that the State protect the life and integrity of prisoners, staff and visitors of the Aníbal Bruno Complex. In February 2015, facing a continued lack of sufficient action by the state, we gathered the hundreds of complaints sent to the OAS about the Complex, edited the documents to ensure the anonymity of those involved, and made the information public on arquivoanibal.weebly.com. Shortly after, we were forbidden from using cameras.

We are not the only ones being censored after revealing abuses in the Complex. We were told by Pernambuco authorities that the State Mechanism to Prevent and Combat Torture would be subject to the camera ban, even though State Law 14.863 guarantees the right of members of that prison monitoring body to “make records using audiovisual resources, respecting the privacy of those involved.” Prison officers have also reported feeling pressured not to use cameras to document unlawfulness at the public institutions in which they serve.

This is not the first time we have dealt with obstructions to our work. Coalition members have been working with other organizations in international cases concerning various notorious prisons in the country, including in Maranhão (Pedrinhas), Espírito Santo (CASCUVI), Rondônia (Urso Branco), Rio de Janeiro (Polinter) and São Paulo (Araraquara). We have always obtained clear jurisprudence from the Court on the duty of the state to grant full access to human rights monitors, as evidenced, for example, in resolutions on the Urso Branco and Araraquara prisons.

Pernambuco authorities themselves previously imposed a ban on the use of cameras after the OAS convened a meeting on the Complex Aníbal Bruno in November 2012. The prohibition caused serious harms. For example, we were unable to photographically document the case of a prisoner full of bodily injuries who reported being raped with broom stick by prison officers. We also could not record testimony concerning various other crucial complaints, including about corruption. We had to produce handmade sketches to try to continue portraying the reality of the Complex. The ban was overturned by the Pernambuco authorities only after we exposed these drawings at a public hearing in 2013.

There is no way to hide such glaring problems. It is better to opt for transparency. Only it can transform an abusive, chaotic and corrupt prison system.

Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões (SEMPRI) [Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons]

Pastoral Carcerária do Estado de Pernambuco [Catholic Prison Ministry of the State of Pernambuco]

Pastoral Carcerária Nacional [National Catholic Prison Ministry]

Global Justice [Justiça Global]

International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard University

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December 17, 2014

Pernambuco State Bans Strip Searches of Visitors to Detention Centers

Posted by Fernando Ribeiro Delgado

For decades, human rights advocates have sought an end to the humiliating state practice of strip searching prison visitors in Pernambuco, Brazil, the state housing the notorious Aníbal Bruno Prison Complex. Yesterday, responding to the Aníbal order of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and to a growing national movement against the degrading searches, the Secretariat of Development and Human Rights at last banned the procedures through Administrative Order 258/2014. The order classifies as “humiliating, inhuman or degrading,” all searches that involve “total or partial nudity; any conduct that entails the introduction of objects into the bodily cavities of the persons searches; the use of dogs or sniffer animals, even if they are trained for that end;” and/or “manual contact with the intimate parts of the person being searched.”

Administrative Order 258/2014 in the Pernambuco Official Gazette of the Executive Branch, December 16, 2014, p.3.

Administrative Order 258/2014 in the Pernambuco Official Gazette of the Executive Branch, December 16, 2014, p.3.

The prohibition should benefit an estimated 30,000 families, applying to all detention centers in the state. Until recently, Pernambuco subjected nearly all prison visitors—often including children, elderly persons, and persons with disabilities—to invasive, degrading searches involving nudity and manual inspection of intimate body parts. Women and girls were most frequently subjected to the practice.

The ban is a milestone in decades of local struggle by the Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões (Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons) and the Pastoral Carcerária (Catholic Prison Ministry), among others. The civil society coalition which successfully sought an Inter-American Court order (para. 20) prohibiting humiliating searches includes those two groups as well as Justiça Global (Global Justice) and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.

A judge in Recife, Pernambuco, had issued a temporary ban on humiliating searches in Greater Recife this past April, two months after the civil society coalition sought the inter-American order. Yesterday’s prohibition on humiliating searches is more expansive, containing no temporal limit and applying to all Pernambuco prisons. It provides for searches to be done “preserving the honor and dignity of the human person,” and calls for the use of metal detectors and other measures to replace the old procedures. According to 2012 data from São Paulo, only 0.02% of 3.5 million humiliating searches yielded drugs or cell phones.

In September 2014, a resolution of the National Council on Crime and Penitentiary Policy recommended a ban on humiliating searches across Brazil. However, Bill 7764/2014, abolishing humiliating searches of prison visitors nationwide, is still pending in Congress.

 

August 12, 2011

Legal Victory Places Massive Aníbal Bruno Prison Under International Sanction

Posted by Fernando Ribeiro Delgado

On August 4, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights officially called on Brazil to take all steps necessary to protect the life, personal integrity, and health of prisoners in Aníbal Bruno prison and reduce over-crowding at the pre-trial center, one of largest prison complexes in Latin America and among Brazil’s most violent.  This is the first time Aníbal Bruno prison has come under international sanction.  The measures were sought this past June by a coalition of human rights groups including the Catholic Prison Ministry (Pastoral Carcerária), the Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons (Serviço Ecumênico de Militância nas Prisões), Global Justice (Justiça Global), and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.

Starting in 2010, the Clinic and its partner organizations began gathering evidence of 55 violent deaths occurring in the prison since 2008, the vast majority of them homicides.  Joint fact-finding visits documented systematic torture and severe medical neglect as well.  The coalition reported these abuses to state authorities—as had occurred many times before—but little was done to address the prison’s problems.  The request for precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission was filed this past June, as the death toll continued to rise.

The coalition’s filing sought measures to reduce rampant violence within the facility, provide health services to gravely ill prisoners, and promote long-term reforms that would stem excessive pre-trial incarceration, improve conditions of detention, and tackle corruption.  Brazil has until August 24 to inform the Commission of its efforts to comply with the decision.

Located in one of Brazil’s tourism capitals, Recife, Pernambuco state, the Aníbal Bruno prison gained national notoriety in 2008 when the facility was designated by a congressional inquiry as one of the top ten worst detention centers in the country.  Inhuman detention conditions persist today.  Aníbal Bruno prison is currently at 334 percent capacity, with over 4,800 prisoners crammed into space designed to hold 1,448.  In its decision, the Commission sought from Brazil “a substantive reduction in the overpopulation of persons deprived of liberty [in Aníbal Bruno],” among other steps.

During their inspections, coalition members found evidence of systematic torture, including signs that some prisoners had been partially skinned and had their bones broken in assaults orchestrated by “keymasters” (chaveiros)—prisoners who are officially deputized with guard duties.  The “keymaster” prisoners derive their nicknames from the fact that they literally control the keys to cells and, in practice, decide which prisoners get to access medical and other services outside the cellblock walls.  The coalition documented prisoners suffering severe medical neglect in Aníbal Bruno, including untreated open wounds, infections, and chronic pain.  The Inter-American Commission specifically urged Brazil to end the “keymaster” system, provide, “adequate medical attention to the [prisoners],” and adopt, “all the measures necessary to avoid the transmission of contagious diseases.”

Members of the Catholic Prison Ministry and the Ecumenical Service of Advocacy in Prisons have been monitoring human rights conditions in Aníbal Bruno prison for decades.  Justiça Global and the Clinic began fact-finding, international litigation, and media advocacy surrounding Aníbal Bruno last fall, joining the work of advocates in the region.

For the initial complaint on Aníbal Bruno (in Portuguese with certain names redacted), click here [warning: this document contains a graphic image].

For the Commission’s decision (in Portuguese), click here.

For Justiça Global’s press release on the case (in Portuguese), click here.

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May 9, 2011

Five Years After Deadly May 2006 São Paulo Attacks, Report Documents Role of State Violence and Corruption in Organized Crime

PRESS RELEASE

Report by Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic and Brazilian NGO demonstrates central role of police brutality, corruption, and prison mismanagement in major security crisis of May 2006 and today

May 9, 2011, São Paulo, Brazil—Five years ago, a series of coordinated uprisings in 74 detention centers and attacks on police stations and public buildings left 43 state officials and hundreds of civilians dead and brought South America’s largest city and financial capital to a standstill.  São Paulo streets were deserted as residents stayed at home in fear.  After the violence coordinated by the organized crime syndicate the “First Command of the Capital” (Primeiro Comando da Capital, or “PCC” by its Portuguese initials) stopped, police killed scores of civilians in a wave of reprisal attacks, targeting those they suspected of having criminal backgrounds, in many cases relying apparently only on the youth, skin color, presence of tattoos and presence on the streets of poor neighborhoods at night.  Evidence in 122 killings contains signs of police having committed an extrajudicial execution.

Today, five years later, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic  and the leading Brazilian human rights group Justiça Global release a comprehensive study of the May 2006 attacks.  The Report, “São Paulo sob Achaque: Corrupção Crime Organizado e Violência Institutional em Maio de 2006”, seeks to answer several questions essential to public security in Brazil: What led to the attacks?  Why were state authorities unable or unwilling to prevent them?  Why and how did the police lash out violently in revenge killings?  Why have the crimes committed by the state not been investigated, and in many cases, apparently covered up?

The result of five years of investigation—including hundreds of interviews; scores of on-site visits to jails, prisons, and communities affected by violence; meetings with a broad range of authorities; and a  review of thousands of pages of documents, police reports, and judicial records—sheds new light on the May 2006 attacks.  “Official corruption, tragically, was a driving force behind the May attacks.  PCC leaders—new information in the study confirms—coordinated their assault in large part as a response to a series of organized shakedowns by the police,” said Fernando Delgado, a fellow at Harvard Law School and the principal author of the report.  “The evidence indicates that a year prior to the attacks, police were using wiretaps, kidnapping, and other abuse of family members of gang leaders to extract bribes.  The PCC decided to retaliate brutally and brought the city to a halt.”

Continue Reading…

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