Pre-trial detention hearings: meeting discusses issues and actions for 2020


Brasília, 21 January 2020 - In almost five years of operation, pre-trial detention hearings continue to consolidate in the country as they demand new technical and operational discussions, including on issues such as social protection, prevention and combating torture, racial issues and legal parameterization. These were some of the issues addressed last week during a meeting promoted by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) with the 27 consultants assigned throughout the country to strengthen the  pre-trial detention hearings.

In addition to discussing the issues and the best way to address them in partnership with the local judiciary, the event also served as a preparation for the pre-trial detention hearings to be developed by the Justice Present Programme in 2020. "Each year, pre-trial detention hearings gain maturity and consistency," said Luís Geraldo Lanfredi, coordinator of the Department of Monitoring and Inspection of the Prison System (DMF/CNJ). He also highlighted the unprecedented nature of sending consultants to work in partnership with the magistrates. Antonio Carlos de Castro Neves Tavares, auxiliary judge of the CNJ Presidency, wished perseverance in the work.

The consultants' visit to the Federation Units (FUs) is part of the Present Justice programme, a partnership between the CNJ and the United Nations Development Program (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 pre-trial detention hearings are coordinated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


For UNDP's Peace and Governance Unit Coordinator, Moema Freire, the work of Justice Present is a learning experience for the United Nations system itself as to how to act at the tip. "What is built here will be systematized as methodologies for transforming reality. The effort we make has many challenges, but we will take not only a leap in quality in what is done in Brazil, but lessons for other concepts," she said.

The UNODC Rule of Law Unit Coordinator, Nívio Nascimento, stated that the capillarity of the program and the idea of working directly in the FUs brings many gains. "We will have a challenging year ahead. This has been a week of cooperation and we have tried to solve important issues to continue working together", he added.

In addition to commenting on the perception of the results of the work in the field, which include good reception and work in collaboration with magistrates in various parts of the country, the consultants brought up issues such as the need to promote the qualification of the Pre-trial Detention Hearings System (Sistac), improvements in the dynamics of the hearings - including in the psychosocial care of people arrested in the act - the fight against institutional racism and the efforts for the CNJ to promote a unique response pattern in different scenarios found in the units of the federation.


The pre-trial detention hearings were established as a national policy by the CNJ, with implementation in the 27 FUs between February and October 2015 and subsequent publication of rules for its operation (CNJ Resolution n. 213/2015). They consist of the presentation of the prisoner in flagrante 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 Presente works to comply with the Supreme Federal Court decision in 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 to replace the 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.


  To know more:

    All the stories