Over the course of a decade, the International Human Rights Clinic was deeply engaged in human rights issues in Brazil. We worked on a host of projects concerning policing; prisons; transitional justice; indigenous rights; human rights and the environment; corruption; and other issues. We collaborate closely with local civil society groups, such as leading Brazilian human rights organization Justiça Global. In addition to civil society, the Clinic often takes on issues in Brazil at the invitation of other key stakeholders, such as federal prosecutors seeking to hold dictatorship-era officials accountable.
Our primary focus at present is on criminal justice issues. As in many countries, Brazil’s criminal justice system reflects and reinforces endemic economic, racial, and other forms of inequality and discrimination. Today, more than half a million people languish in Brazil’s notoriously abusive and rapidly growing prison system, many held for years merely awaiting trial without adequate access to counsel. Police abuse was rampant, with a legacy of military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. The Clinic partnered with organizations to address endemic issues through a mixture of impact litigation, fact-finding, reporting, media outreach, government advocacy, and national policy reform efforts. The Clinic frequently acted as co-counsel in Inter-American litigation regarding prisoners’ rights and juvenile justice and regularly conducts extensive fact-finding on police abuse in Brazil.
In addition to the Clinic’s work, the Academic Program also supported human rights work in Brazil by regularly sponsoring events, panels, screenings, and courses—including, for instance, a film screening and debate on urban inequality, crime, and police abuse, and a January term class on the legal Doctrine and Practice of the Inter-American Human Rights System taught at the seat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.
Expert: Fernando Ribeiro Delgado