Detainees at the Penitenciária Agro-Industrial São João (PAISJ) in Itamaracá. In August 2015, the prison housed 2,350 people in space officially designated to hold a maximum of 630. 

Human Rights Watch is very concerned about a decree issued by president Jair Bolsonaro that eliminates the remuneration for the experts of the National Mechanism to Prevent and Combat Torture and fires its current members. In practice, the decree not only weakens the Mechanism but may make it inviable, since it will depend on volunteers who, in addition, cannot have links with civil society organizations and academic institutions that are active in ​​the fight against torture and participate in the National Committee to Prevent and Combat Torture. The decree also eliminated the requirement that the experts selected represent the regional, racial, ethnic and gender diversity of Brazil.

Brazil committed itself to the creation and maintenance of the Mechanism by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2007. Since its creation in 2013, the Mechanism has played a key role in exposing torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention facilities in Brazil, including by alerting authorities to the activities of prison gangs and the risk of killings behind bars. Instead of acting against illegal prison conditions and violation of basic rights, the Bolsonaro government is acting against the experts who document and denounce them.