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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UNSC Membership Overview, Brazil

It is clear, from the US State Department and a multitude of news reports and human rights agencies, that Brazil can be quite brutal in the arena of human rights and following their own constitutional laws.

Slavery still is practiced in Brazil. Slavery and labor situations like depression era company towns still exist in remote areas in Brazil like the Amazon. Indentured Servitude, abandoned long before the British Colonies became the United States of America, is still practiced here. A recruiter known as a "gato," or cat, plumbs the slums and other poor areas of the vast country and gets people to agree to jobs in distant places. Once separated from home and family, workers are vulnerable to all sorts of abuses, such as being told they owe money for transportation, food, housing and other services. "This is known as debt bondage, which also fits official definitions of slavery,"

Darker-skinned citizens, particularly Afro-Brazilians, frequently encountered discrimination.

Prisons are overcrowded and unhealthy, and prison rape is not uncommon. There are over 400,000 inmates in the system. Beatings, torture and killings by prison guards occur throughout the system. Children are abused in the juvenile justice system.  According to the Ministry of Justice, 13,489 teenagers are in detention.

Prison conditions throughout the country often range from poor to extremely harsh and life threatening. Abuse by prison guards, poor medical care, and severe overcrowding occurred at many facilities. Prison officials often resorted to brutal treatment of prisoners, including torture.

Torture in Brazil is widespread and systematic according to the ex-UN Special Rapporteur. Occurrence of police torture accompanies murder or effecting intimidation and extortion. Torture has also been widely reported in detention centers and mental institutions. Although the constitution prohibits torture and provides severe legal penalties for its use, torture by police and prison guards remained a serious and widespread problem. The government's National Human Rights Secretariat (SEDH) acknowledged that torture existed in the country and related the problem to societal tolerance and the fear of retaliation.

Federal, state, and military police often enjoyed impunity in cases of torture, as in other cases of abuse. During the year an additional state (for a total of 13 of 26) adopted the National Plan for the Prevention and Control of Torture, which includes the installation of cameras in prisons and penitentiaries, taping of interrogations, and reversal of the presumption of innocence for those accused of torture.

State Department -- unlawful killings by state police (military and civil) were widespread, particularly in the populous states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

In many cases police officers employed indiscriminate lethal force during apprehensions. In some cases civilian deaths followed severe harassment or torture by law enforcement officials.

Credible reports indicated the continuing involvement of state police officials in revenge killings and the intimidation and killing of witnesses involved in testifying against police officials.

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