Geneva, January 31, 2022.- Experts from the UN torture prevention body will visit Brazil from today to 4 February for meetings with senior officials to discuss the country’s policy that amended the national system to prevent and combat torture.
During their visit to the capital, Brasilia, the experts from the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will raise their concerns over how the policy and a presidential decree issued in June 2019 are weakening the functioning of the country’s torture watchdog (Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção e Combate à Tortura – MNPCT).
Under this policy, 11 of the MNPCT’s members will no longer be remunerated and will be expected to work on a voluntary basis. In addition, the MNPCT’s members will not have any staff and secretariat support from the government.
“It’s a pressing matter,” said Suzanne Jabbour, the head of the delegation and Chairperson of the SPT. “Without the financial and administrative support from the authorities, the MNPCT, which is supposed to visit and monitor prisons and other detention facilities regularly, will be barely operational.”
The SPT issued its opinion on the presidential decree in December 2019. The decree has been suspended under an injunction by a Federal court, pending a final decision.
“We were due to meet the Brazilian authorities in 2020, but the visit had to be postponed due to the pandemic. As we are now resuming our programme of visits, Brazil is one of our top priorities,” Jabbour said.
“With our strong engagement and dialogue with the highest authorities, we hope to convey the message that a strong national preventive mechanism is key to promoting and protecting the human rights of people deprived of liberty in Brazil,” she added.
State parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are obliged to establish functional national preventive mechanisms (NPM). These bodies conduct regular visits to places where people are deprived of their liberty as part of efforts to prevent torture and ill-treatment and improve detention conditions. Brazil established a national system of prevention of torture in 2013, but only four out of the 26 States have set up a preventive body.
The SPT visited Brazil in 2011 and 2015. The reports on these visits are available to the public online.
The SPT delegation comprises Suzanne Jabbour (Lebanon), Head of the delegation and Chairperson of the SPT; Juan Pablo Vegas (Peru), Head of the SPT Regional Team for Latin America and Rapporteur on Brazil; and Nora Sveaass (Norway), member of the SPT delegation that visited Brazil in 2015.