Archive for category Latin America & the Caribbean
Editor’s Note: This is the second of two blogs on the Latin American Regional Seminar, which took place in Quito, Ecuador a few weeks ago. Read the first one here. Here, IRCT member Equipo Argentino de Trabajo e Investigación Psicosocial (EATIP) of Argentina speaks about the work – and the challenges — of rehabilitating indigenous victims of torture in Latin America.
We want to share our views on torture rehabilitation in the multicultural environment in Argentina, as discussed at the 16th Regional Meeting of the Latin American network of institutions working against torture.
Argentina has a hegemonic culture related to the flood of European migrants from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. This culture often does not include the perspectives of the native populations, aggravated by political and administrative centralism. Equipo Argentino de Trabajo e Investigación Psicosocial (EATIP) gives priority to social class factors, including also ethnic and gender factors.
The Latin America regional network is giving more attention to violation of indigenous people rights, especially related to the protection of their territories due to exploitation of natural resources (mining, oil, etc.), cultivation of soya, etc., in which important corporative interests are at the stake. Other characteristics of this problematic situation are the social polarization and confrontation between groups and members in the communities due to co-optation by governments.
For interventions with these groups, we used community-based approaches. For psychosocial interventions in those cases, specific training of professionals is needed. At the present, the economic difficulties that EATIP and other centres in the region are facing impede the continuity of these activities. EATIP has assisted migrant groups from Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, who live in slums called “Villas Miserias”; and African youths and political refugees.
In the 16th Regional Meeting of the Latin American members of IRCT and allied organisations, our centres identified that the inter-cultural factors have strong significance that enrich our work.
By Dr Mariana Lagos and Mr Ely Stacco, Clinical and Psychosocial Area, EATIP, Argentina
Editor’s Note: The following blog post comes from José Utrera, Regional Coordinator for Latin America. As a holistic approach to rehabilitation of torture survivors must take into consideration the various cultural contexts and methods of collecting data and reporting as well as healing and treatment, Jose addresses the issue of intercultural approaches in the Latin American context. This is the first of two blog posts from IRCT’s annual Latin America meeting of torture rehabilitation centres.
The 16th meeting of the Latin American network of health institutions working against torture and other violations of human rights took place in the last week of September, in the Andean city of Quito, Ecuador. Twenty-seven representatives of 16 organizations, almost all them IRCT members, from 13 Latin American countries met to exchange experiences and discuss strategic issues related to their work.
One of the issues discussed in the meeting was the intercultural approaches to prevention, rehabilitation and access to justice related to victims of torture. This is an important matter because in several countries indigenous people and others as Afro-descendants are significant proportion of the population. Latin American centres are using different methodologies and strategies to face this issue.
A rehabilitation centre in Colombia presented on their experiences of immersion and continuous adaptation of their methodologies and ways of intervention with indigenous communities of Cauca. Before starting the process of collecting and assessing information on the traumatic experiences the communities suffered, staff agree with the population on the purposes and uses the information. Thereafter, the staff live within the communities for some weeks, taking part in their social and religious activities to gain the confidence of people, especially the women, to share their experiences and to understand it as much as possible those experiences and the ways they cope with it. As the team’s comprehension of the resources that communities have to cope with the traumatic experiences— such as, religious rituals, medicinal plants, etc. — and the expectations of the victims and the concrete political context increase, the methodologies for data collection and assessment of individual and collective damage and the approach to rehabilitation are adapted.
The representative of an allied organisation in Guatemala presented their experience on data collection and reporting about the traumatic experiences of indigenous people victims of genocide. They emphasised not only the need to accurately know the language, but also the ways indigenous people express the personal significance and feelings during and after torture, which frequently is difficult to translate in Spanish as it reflects an own worldview (cosmovisión). She also pointed out the need to accompany the victims, especially the women, not only to prepare their testimonies, but also during and after they attest.
The lessons from the regional seminar show the importance of adapting treatment methods to the particular cultural context of victims, one of the fundamentals of holistic rehabilitation.
Different centres presented their experiences, sharing the following issues:
- the methodologies for immersion to gain confidence of indigenous people to share their traumatic experiences and understanding of those experiences;
- aspects related to language, particularly the ways indigenous people express the significance and feelings during and after torture;
- regular adaptation of intervention strategies according to emerging insights of the traumatic experiences and the way persons and communities want to deal with it;
- methodologies to assess the individual and collective damage, including the adaptation and validation of instruments for investigation and reporting;
- adaptation of rehabilitation approaches according to their own resources (traditional medicine, social mechanisms, rituals), their values and the political contexts in which these take place;
- training of professionals to recognise these cultural factors in the processes of assessment and rehabilitation of torture cases.
During the discussion of those experiences, the participants stated that the assessment and reporting of torture cases in the multicultural societies of Latin America aims to a) administer justice, and b) to recognize each person citizen’s rights no matter what his/her culture.
By José Utrera , Regional Coordinator for Latin America and Caribbean
”Enforced disappearances are becoming a major human rights concern in Asia,” read the news radio announcer. “Estimated tens of thousands have been disappeared.”
The structure of that last sentenced grated on the inner copy-editor in me. “…Have been disappeared,” is markedly passive. “By whom?” I want to ask, but the uncertainty of the subject is part of the nature of enforced disappearances. The answer is: we don’t often know.
If someone is enforced, or involuntarily, disappeared, they are just that – they are gone, but no one knows to where. It is likely that they have been killed, but no one knows when or where they are buried. It is possible that they have been tortured, but no one knows if they are OK.
In countries around the world, state officials, such as police, military or other security officials, arrest and detain individuals without their families’ knowledge of their whereabouts or well-being. They are outside of the arms of the law, often tortured, often killed, and rarely found again. They simply disappear, and their families are always left to wonder what happened to their loved one.
According to a 2012 report from the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 53,778 cases have been reported since 1980. Over 42,000 of these cases, in 82 states, remain unsolved. When a person is secretly abducted, detained or killed by a state agent, this constitutes the human rights violation of enforced disappearance. Like torture, The victims are often tortured while secretly detained.
Such practices were common during the dictatorships in Latin America around the 1970s and 1980s. In Argentina, an estimated 30,000 disappeared, and only recently, with the help of forensic NGOs, have families received the remains of those missing for more than three decades.
Enforced disappearances — like torture — happen in secrecy, between four walls. As Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, wrote in the 2012 Global Reading, “Prison walls have a double function: to lock people in and the public out.” Not only are family members kept from the knowledge of their loved ones whereabouts, but justice cannot find the disappeared. Not seeing and not knowing means there is little recourse for justice and impunity remains.
With no record of the disappeared, how can you label the crime? Was the person tortured? Were they killed? Who is responsible? Without evidence, it is difficult to find and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. In countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, China, and the US, few have been held to account for the thousands of victims of enforced disappearance.
Bringing these crimes to light and ensuring the public remains aware when someone is disappeared is our role, but everyone can help. Our voice is one of the strongest weapons against these crimes and a strong challenge to the reign of impunity.
“You are here to speak about the theme of torture?”
The question comes loud and clear from the receptionist at the receiving desk of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in Lima, where I just handed in the passports of our delegation and explained that we have a meeting with the Vice-Minister of Human Rights in Peru. I am positively puzzled by the frankness.
I am in Lima for the IRCT to support member centre Centro de Atención Psicosocial (CAPS) in following up on the implementation of the recommendations on rehabilitating torture survivors issued by the Committee against Torture (CAT) to the PeruvianState in November 2012. Following-up in this case essentially means discussing with the Peruvian government how they have received the recommendations and which steps they intend to take to implement them.
For this purpose, we had asked rehabilitation expert and researcher Dr Nora Sveaass to accompany us. Dr Sveaass is a well-known personality within the anti-torture movement. Her expertise is crucial in meetings like these.
Some days earlier I had met with Dr Nora Sveaass and Dr Carlos Jibaja, Director of CAPS. After a lot of coordination by email before the trip, we were finally able to sit down all three of us in CAPS’ yellow office building in Lima. The following week we would be meeting with the Vice-Ministry for Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the Ombudsman. All four are key players in respect to the implementation of the CAT recommendations and the broader objective of ending torture in Peru. We discussed the strategy for the meetings as well as the current political climate in Peru.
Back at the Ministry, sitting in a spacious meeting room with the Vice-Minister for Human Rights and four of his colleagues, we experience one of the sacred moments in the work against torture — a door of political will is opened. The Vice-Minister and his staff were very forthcoming, the discussion was constructive and a clear interest to cooperate was expressed. Although it is only words at this stage, these are the kind of moments you recall and repeat to yourself when things are stuck and human rights feels like a lost cause to the world.
If words are followed by action, the work in Peru might be a milestone in the realisation of the right to rehabilitation for torture survivors, which can be replicated by governments across the globe.
The past year the IRCT, in close collaboration with member centre CAPS, has been working specifically towards ensuring the availability and accessibility of rehabilitation services for torture survivors in Peru. About a year ago, in May 2012, we wrote about reporting to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to demonstrate how torture is a direct violation of the right to health.
In November 2012, the IRCT and CAPS submitted another alternative report on Peru, this time to the Committee against Torture (CAT). In this report, we again assessed the rehabilitation services for torture victims provided by the Peruvian government and offered recommendations as to how the system can be improved to benefit all victims of torture in the country. To present the report before the Committee and to stress the importance of its content, a colleague from CAPS travelled to Geneva. The presence of our members in Geneva often has a powerful effect because this gives the opportunity for them to personally meet with the Committee members and give more detailed and concrete explanations about the situation in their countries. In doing so, we managed to bring to the Committee’s attention some of the shortfalls and the lack of access to specialised rehabilitation services in Peru.
In the end, CAT issued four concrete recommendations to the Peruvian government on rehabilitation access. This provided an important international expert validation of our work in pushing for torture survivors’ access to proper rehabilitation services at the national level in Peru. The meetings we had with officials of the Peruvian government provided for yet another step in the right direction.
With the adoption of General Comment No. 3 on Article 14 of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which clearly stipulates the obligations of states in respect to providing rehabilitation services for torture survivors, and with concrete recommendations on rehabilitation given to the Peruvian State, we have come a long way.
While all still remains on paper and in diplomatic words, opening doors for cooperation in the political sphere are crucial for creating change on the ground. Let’s see what 2013 brings in terms of implementing the talk.
By Line, project coordinator focusing on Latin America and Asia. The advocacy mission to Peru, part of the Non-State Actors project, was funded by the European Commission.
Brazilian psychologist and human rights activist Vera Vital Brasil knows from experience what she is talking about when she tells about her years of work with torture victims. Joining with other survivors of torture, Vera was among the founders of the anti-torture organisation Grupo Torturo Nunca Mais that, beginning in 1991, provided medical and psychological treatment for victims of torture.
As a student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in the late ’60s, Vera participated actively in the university student movement, a major focus of resistance to Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985). Because of her activism, in December 1969, she was arrested and tortured on the premises of the notorious DOI-CODI, the Destacamento de Operações de Informações – Centro de Operações de Defesa Interna (in English: Department of Information Operations – Center for Internal Defense Operations) in Rio de Janeiro, which was the Brazilian intelligence and repression agency during the military government. After three months in prison, Vera left Rio and went into exile in Chile. Her exile lasted six years and upon her return to Brazil, in 1976, she was determined to change the course of her career to try to turn the wrongs that others done to her into something good.
“What do we do with what others have done to us? Internalize this tormenting experience or fight to stop this happening again? I chose the latter,” she says to explain her choice for psychology and clinical work and her involvement with victims of torture.
While working as a chemistry teacher and studying Psychology, Vera participated in volunteer programmes aimed at securing human rights and health care to residents of Rio de Janeiro’s slums. Years later, again as a volunteer, she worked to support people infected with HIV.
This was only the beginning of a long story of work for the protection of human rights. In 1982, Vera joined other former political prisoners living in Rio de Janeiro in their reaction against the appointment to public office of people responsible for torture during the dictatorship. This initiative eventually led a group of former political prisoners, torture survivors and relatives of dead and missing people to found the Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais (GTNM/RJ, which in English stands for Never More Torture Group) in 1985. The group is a non-governmental organisation that was born with a mission to fight for human rights, including the clarification of the deaths and disappearances of political activists and remembrance of past abuses, and struggle against impunity, for justice and for the denunciation of torture and all forms of violence.
The GTNM/RJ was founded at a time when the memory of the deaths, disappearances and torture that occurred during the military dictatorship in Brazil was in danger of being forgotten: silence reigned. “Deeply painful experiences were being put in ‘the trunk of forgetfulness’ and the State had a policy of silence about these events,” says Vera Brasil. The fact that survivors of torture did not talk about their experiences due to feeling unsafe also contributed to the fact that many crimes were falling into oblivion. “Some patients blame themselves for what had happened to them. They thought, for example, that they had not been agile enough to escape the repression and attributed to their own mistakes the error of being arrested. But it was the State that had committed the crimes by killing, torturing, ‘disappearing’ the bodies of opponents and decimating the forces of opposition to the regime.”
In 1991, with funding from the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, the GTNM/RJ formed a clinical team to provide medical and psychological treatment and physical rehabilitation to victims of torture. Vera was part of the team from its creation up until this year.
Justice and redress
Throughout these years, her personal experience and dedication to other victims have convinced her that the trauma caused by torture can never be completely overcome but must be addressed through clinical treatment and proper redress.
“The damage caused by torture is accentuated if it is ignored, if there is no justice, or no redress. The fact that the state, which should guarantee and protect human life, is the agent of violence has a devastating effect on people’s psychological well-being. Our clinical practice is insufficient to cure this damage. But we can try to get people who have gone through this harrowing experience to feel better and give another meaning to this suffering, shifting it from a personal and private level to the collective and historical level, “she says.
In July 1993, when street children and teenagers were murdered by police in Rio de Janeiro, in what became known as the Massacre of Candelaria, the GTNM/RJ team members realized that their area of work should be expanded. “We were taking care of those affected by the state violence that occurred during the dictatorship and realized that another segment of society was being affected by state violence during the transition to democracy” says Vera.
The poor: today’s victims
Vera says that there has been a change in the main target of state violence. “In Brazil, there is no longer political persecution as there was during the military regime. Today the poor are the biggest victims of state violence and, unfortunately, torture and mistreatment are both serious and widespread throughout the country.”
“Every day we witness examples of grotesque brutality, execution, torture, violence and abuse in Brazil. Often the police enter the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro shooting indiscriminately, supposedly in pursuit of drug traffickers. In a prison in the state of Espirito Santo, dozens of inmates were crammed into shipping containers where the temperature reached 50 degrees centigrade. In São Paulo, a young motorcycle courier was recently tortured to death by police and who then threw his body into a city street”, she adds.
“Historically, the violence committed by the state, including torture, does not receive media attention, unlike cases of family violence or violence committed by criminals, which always gains prime time coverage on television news,” she says. “The reason is that the main victims of state violence are poor. And the poor in Brazil are invisible. It is as if there was an attempt by political and economic elites of erasing the violence that occur in this sector of the society “, she says
Despite this situation, Vera highlights the efforts of some sectors of the government and thinks that Brazilian society has gradually advanced in protecting human rights. “But it’s amazing to note the discrepancy between sincere concern for human rights from certain parts of the state and disregard from other state actors.,” she says.
Bringing crimes to justice
For her, the best example of progress in this area is the Third National Program for Human Rights, which resulted from the mobilization of civil society and was launched in December last year by President Lula da Silva. According to Vera, despite controversial changes recently made to the program, it still represents a breakthrough in efforts to protect human rights in the country.
Vera is no longer working at GTNM/RJ, but her activism against state violence continues. She participates in a group of therapists who are working on the creation of a national public policy for the care of those affected by state violence, and also in the activities of an organization that works to record and bring to justice crimes committed by the state.
Her current militancy reflects her concerns that reparation to victims of torture and other forms of state violence that should be comprehensive and not limited to financial compensation. “We need to expand our collective knowledge about what happened, send those responsible to trial and create memory of what happened,” she urges.
In recent years, thousands of people who were persecuted by the military regime have received economic compensation from the Brazilian state. Vera fears that the economic compensation ends up having a perverse effect. “The economic compensation can make people shut up and silence their cry for justice.” The 64-year-old Vera wants to continue working to prevent such silencing occurs.
Editor’s Note: The following is a blog post submission from our member centre in Mexico, Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) (in English, the Collective Against Torture and Impunity). In the beginning of November, Mexico faced a review of their compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. During this process, CCTI with the IRCT and other Mexican and international organisations in providing their own reports on the situation of torture in Mexico. Here is a blog on their own experience in this process. Abajo, en español
On 31 October and 1 November, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) examined the Mexican state. This revision happened just before the departure of the current President Felipe Calderón, during whose administration it was reported a dramatic increase of human rights violations, including torture, forced disappearances as well as attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.
The Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) participated in the elaboration of an alternative report about the situation of torture in Mexico and submitted another report, together with the IRCT, about the implementation of the Istanbul Protocol [PDF]. In both reports, the importance of the effectiveness and independence of torture investigations, including medico-psychological documentation, was underlined. The fight against impunity represents a fundamental aspect in the prevention of torture. However, Mexico is characterised by the total impunity for perpetrators, leaving the victims in a situation of double vulnerability.
In the examination, the CAT members questioned the state about the lack of investigation and sanctions against the offenders. Additionally, they highlighted the issues of arraigo detention, military law, the Istanbul Protocol and the situation of human rights defenders, migrants and women.
As expected, the state denied the inefficacy of its actions, offered partial and incomplete information and avoided several questions. The state presented itself as a promoter of human rights and justified arraigo detention, the opening of more high security prisons and the involvement of the military in public security matters.
The human rights organisations at the examination had the opportunity to meet with the Committee and raise their concerns. They were heard and their recommendations were taken in consideration in what concerns questioning the report by the Mexican state. CCTI, as well the other organisations present at the examination, hope that the recommendations by the Committee are compelling and detailed and help the work of exposing and fighting torture in Mexico.
Los días 31 de octubre y 1 de noviembre el Estado mexicano fue examinado ante el Comité Contra la Tortura (CAT) de la ONU. Esta revisión se dio poco antes de la salida del actual presidente Felipe Calderón en cuya administración se ha reportado un aumento dramático de violaciones a los Derechos Humanos, incluyendo la tortura, la desaparición forzada y agresiones contra defensores y periodistas.
EL Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad (CCTI) participó en la elaboración de un informe alternativo acerca de la situación de tortura en México y entregó otro informe sobre la implementación del Protocolo de Estambul conjuntamente con el IRCT [PDF]. En ambos se destaca la importancia de la eficacia e independencia de las investigaciones por tortura, incluyendo la documentación médico-psicológica. La lucha contra la impunidad representa un aspecto fundamental en la prevención de la tortura. México se caracteriza por la total impunidad para los perpetradores, lo que deja a las víctimas en una situación de doble vulnerabilidad.
En la revisión los miembros del CAT cuestionaron al estado acerca de la falta de investigaciones y sanciones en contra de los agresores. Además destacaron los temas de arraigo, el fuero militar, el Protocolo de Estambul, la situación de los defensores, migrantes y mujeres.
Como era de esperar, el estado negó la ineficacia de sus acciones, proporcionó información parcial e incompleta o evitó contestar varias preguntas. Se presentó como promotor de derechos humanos, sin embargo justificó la figura del arraigo, la creación de más cárceles de alta seguridad y la participación de militares en tareas de seguridad pública.
Las organizaciones de derechos humanos que asistieron a la revisión tuvieron la posibilidad de reunirse con el CAT y plantear sus preocupaciones. Fueron escuchados y sus recomendaciones fueron tomados en cuenta al cuestionar el informe del estado mexicano. El CCTI así como las demás organizaciones esperamos que las recomendaciones del CAT sean contundentes, precisas y ayuden en su labor de denunciar y combatir la tortura en México.
The day saw an unprecedented number of organisations around the world come together to mark the day, to stand in solidarity with survivors of torture and to remind the world that rehabilitation for torture survivors not only works, it is a right to which they are entitled.
As Joost Martens, IRCT Secretary-General says in his foreword to the report,
Each year, on 26 June, we pause to commemorate and honour the victims of torture, both historic and present. The day has been marked since 1988, which was the first anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, signed on 26 June 1987.
Yet today, despite its absolute prohibition, torture continues to be a global phenomenon: both physical and psychological torture is prevalent in over half the world’s countries. This is a disgrace in the twenty-first century.
Its victims are men, women – often targeted by rape and other sexual torture, and also, children. Torture victims are disproportionately from marginalised groups, in particular the poor, but also minority groups, such as ethnic, religious and sexual minorities.
The day gives us a time to pause and remember those who have suffered, and stand with those who continue to suffer, for, the effects of torture continue long after the actual act has happened.
These are some of the photos we got from 26 June events around the world:
Early this year the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture stated in its review of Brazil that “impunity for acts of torture was pervasive” in the country.
However, following the recent conviction of a colonel for crimes of torture, a new wave of optimism and hope is sweeping the country. Paulo Vannuchi, the former minister who pushed for the establishment of the truth commission in Brazil, is spearheading the wave. He stated, “the impunity has been broken.”
And that wave is not small. The Brazilian truth commission, which began in May and has a two-year mandate, has already received hundreds of recommendations from civil society organisations around the country. These organisations are calling for the government to not only list but prosecute those responsible for the alleged crimes of torture committed during the dictatorship despite a 1979 amnesty that shelters military officials from prosecution.
Open the archives, don’t create new ones
Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais (GTNM), an IRCT member organisation based in Rio de Janeiro, has for many years been at the forefront of calls for the establishment of a truth commission in Brazil. However, the organisation, which has recently been threatened and seen its office targeted by burglars, is not being swept up in the wave of optimism about recent developments.
A little over a month after the commission’s work began, GTNM issued a statement which read: “the national truth commission has been showing their real objectives, and their perverse limitations”.
According to GTNM, the core of the matter is that the dictatorship archives have been kept hidden for years, and instead of making them public, the truth commission is creating new ones, in a measure thought to persuade the perpetrators to reveal details about the crimes of the military regime. GTNM asks whether the commission isn’t just helping to “cover the crimes and its perpetrators?”
Ultimately, the amnesty law remains untouched, and the truth commission won’t have the power to act against those involved in the crimes. Furthermore, the commission is not obliged to release its findings and an eventual list of torturers might be shared with the defence minister and the president only. To further curb the optimist, the small team of seven men and women has only two years to heal the wounds of more than 40 years and turn the page.
The dictatorship in Brazil killed an estimated 400 people; torture victims are estimated to number in the thousands, including, most notably, the nation’s president Dilma Rousseff.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part look at Brazil’s recent review by the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. For more info, please read our earlier story, published just after members of the Subcommittee visited Brazil.
The United Nations examination of Brazil’s detention system is over, and in the spirit of transparency, Brazil has released the report produced by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT).
The SPT first examined the country’s legal and institutional frameworks, healthcare system, impunity, corruption, and reprisals. It then inspected Brazil’s detention system and the conditions of penitentiary institutions.
While the legal framework in Brazil is, according to the Subcommittee, “adequate”, there is a worrying gap between the legal framework and its application in practice; the Subcommittee saw most of the rights and guarantees within the legal framework being widely ignored.
As noted by the Special Rapporteur on Torture following his visit in 2001, many of the recommendations in their report would merely require the authorities to abide by existing Brazilian law.
The SPT expressed the concern that “the current institutional framework in Brazil does not provide for sufficient protection against torture and ill-treatment.”
On the one hand, the public defence system lacks autonomy, as well as the necessary financial and human resources. On the other hand, the country’s judges aren’t asking questions about detainees’ treatment during interrogation, and continue to use evidence obtained through torture.
Furthermore, the country’s forensic doctors are subordinated to the state, undermining the independence of forensic medical documentation, a powerful source of evidence against torture.
In terms of healthcare, the situation is “extremely worrying”. The overall concerns include the lack of financial, material and human resources and the subordination of health services to the security services. All detainees should be offered a medical examination as soon as possible after their initial detention, and such examination must be independent, free of charge and conducted in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol, writes the SPT.
“Impunity for acts of torture was pervasive and was evidenced by a generalized failure to bring perpetrators to justice, as well as by the persistence of a culture that accepts abuses by public officials.”
The SPT was seriously concerned about the allegations of corruption. Examples included “detainees bribing policemen 10,000 Brazilian reais (approx. 4000 Eur) to be freed; police officers stealing evidence; detainees paying bribes in order to satisfy basic needs, such as access to fresh air, relatives having to pay in order to be able to visit detainees; etc.”
Look for Part 2 of Brazil’s torture exam next week.
Fabio is a Communications Officer and Assistant Editor of Torture Journal at IRCT.