Pre-trial detention hearing: meeting to map out actions for 2020

Brasília, 13 January, 2020 - Consultants assigned by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) in the 27 Units of the Federation UF) to strengthen the pre-trial detention hearings across the country participate this week in Brasilia in  training activities, debates and evaluation of activities carried out in the field. The initiative is part of the Justice Present Programme, a partnership between the CNJ and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, to overcome structural problems in the prison and socio-educational system. The initiatives in the pre-trial detentiton hearings are coordinated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

At the opening of the meeting, the coordinator of the Department of Monitoring and Inspection of the Prison System (DMF/CNJ, by its acronym in Portuguese), judge Luís Geraldo Lanfredi praised the work performed in the initial six months of the project. "Many challenges were presented in this initiative, which is innovative from the perspective that for the first time we are dealing with consultants within the judiciary. With delicacy and tact, sensitizing without distancing, showed you that the service that the judiciary provides to society can always improve," he said. "The CNJ works to give more support to the work of consultants and to allow that all of you can make a difference and can contribute to the improvement of local realities, ensuring a closer and more effective justice for citizens," he concluded.

According to the UNDP assistant resident representative in Brazil, Maristela Baioni, the  Justice Present is an extremely innovative project within a complex context and with a short execution time, motivating an important commitment for this year's deliveries and achievements. "UNDP Brazil is very grateful for the partnership with UNODC in the strategy for the pre-trial detention hearings, rationalizing the entrance door of the Brazilian prison system", she said.

The new UNODC director to Brazil, Elena Abbati, highlighted the joint work between the institution and the other partners of Justice Present. "In the country with the third largest prison population in the world, we have in this achievement an opportunity to rationalize the gateway to a costly system," she said. "UNODC reiterates its commitment to a partnership with the Brazilian government and UN agencies in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognizes the importance of the rule of law and an effective and efficient criminal justice system. May the lessons learned result in effective and concrete actions, consolidating the advance towards guaranteeing rights and effective execution of custody hearings".


The Rule of Law Unit Coordinator, Nívio Nascimento presented the week's programme which involves four main actions of the pre-tryal custody hearings initiative - definition of parameters and guidelines, technical assistance at the FU, monitoring, evaluation and advocacy actions and the construction of a High Studies Network on the theme. During these five days of activities, the national team and the consultants will reflect on the lessons learned from the first phase of the project and identify new needs, in addition to building the planning for the implementation of local strategies.

Over the course of the days, the consultants in pre-trial detention hearings will have activities focused on issues such as racial issues in  pre-trial detention hearings and legal parameterization of the institute. Social protection and the prevention and combating of torture will also be addressed, as well as judicial architecture for holding the hearings. All are themes of specialized consultancies that are being developed in the scope of Justice Present. Along with the technical aspects, local experiences will be presented and can be replicated in other states.


The pre-trial detention hearings were established as a national policy by the CNJ, being implemented in the 27 FUs between February and October 2015 and subsequent publication of rules for its operation (CNJ Resolution No. 213/2015). They consist in the presentation of the prisoner in the act to a judge within 24 hours. After the hearing, the magistrate decides whether the prisoner should respond to the process arrested or released, and may also decide to annul the arrest in case of illegality. By putting the magistrate in contact with the prison guard at the time of arrest, these hearings make it easier to prove cases of torture and ill-treatment, which are generally poorly reported.

Justice Present works to comply with the decision of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in the Challenge of Non-compliance with Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 347/2015 and to strengthen the model disseminated by the CNJ, sensitizing actors in the justice and public security system, such as judges, prosecutors, public defenders and police officers to replace pre-trial detention with other more appropriate actions whenever possible, such as precautionary measures and electronic monitoring. In addition to reducing overcrowding - more than a third of the country's population are pre-trial detainees - the measure seeks to prevent the exposure of non-violent people who have not even been convicted of more serious crimes, including members of criminal factions.


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