The Role of Preventive Mechanisms in Brazil
APT was invited by Catholic Prison Pastoral Care Brazil to take part in a seminar for the launching of its 'Report on Torture: an experience of monitoring places of detention for the prevention of torture' ('Relatório sobre Tortura: uma experiência de monitoramento dos locais de detenção para prevenção da tortura').
The seminar, which took place on 02 August 2010, discussed measures to combat and prevent torture in Brazil, and focused on the preventive role of monitoring visits to places of detention and the liability and prosecution of perpetrators.
The report by Catholic Prison Pastoral Care Brazil aims to publicise its experience of monitoring places of detention, as well as to expose the challenges and obstacles still present in Brazil related to the practice of torture and ill treatment. Additionally, the report demonstrates the importance of regular and periodic monitoring of places of detention as the most effective measure to prevent torture.
The report demonstrates that the only tool available to guarantee that cases of torture in places of detention are exposed and acknowledged is through visits to places of detention by external bodies. Such visits give visibility to the detained population and to the abuses and violence which they suffer. Furthermore, the cases cited in the report show that impunity still prevails in Brazil, and a very low number of allegations and reports of torture are properly investigated and prosecuted.
Despite the strong commitment of the members of Pastoral to carry out visits to places of detention, the fact that its monitoring activities are not systematic and are carried out exclusively by volunteers detracts from the effectiveness of the monitoring process. Additionally, as a non governmental organisation, Pastoral has no legal mandate to carry out visits, which weakens its effectiveness as a monitoring body and exposes it to the risk of denial or restriction of its access to places of detention. Therefore, the report highlights the need for the immediate implementation of national preventive mechanisms foreseen by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.