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Unsanitary Cells Prime Condition for Spreading Virus Outside Walls

(New York) – The unsanitary, overcrowded prisons and juvenile detention centers in most Latin American and Caribbean countries offer prime conditions for outbreaks of COVID-19 that could severely affect the health of detainees and of…
Inmates point from inside of La Modelo prison in Bogota, Colombia, Sunday, March 22, 2020.
News
When a child makes the mistake of breaking a law, the state needs to be especially careful in meting out punishment – out of sheer humanity, and because the chances of rehabilitation are so much higher in someone so young. And indeed…
Children at a “socio-educational” unit in the state of Ceará in October 2016.
News
The killing of 33 inmates in the Brazilian state of Roraima is another sign that the country's prisons are disgracefully out of control. Many of the bodies were decapitated, a practice widely used by gangs to terrorize their enemies. …
A relative of a prisoner holds a local newspaper, which shows a headline about a deadly prison riot, in front of Anisio Jobim prison in Manaus, Brazil, on January 3, 2017.
News
Ten years ago this week, Brazil passed a law intended to distinguish dangerous drug traffickers from simple drug users. By replacing jail sentences for users of any illegal drug with penalties such as community service, and increasing penalties for drug…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
News
The Republican candidate for president of the United States speaks and writes approvingly of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He is referring to a program run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that subjected people the US detained…
News
Whenever a criminal appeal lands on Judge Kenarik Boujikian´s desk in her São Paulo office, she always checks a basic fact: whether the case involves a detainee who has already finished their sentence but is still incarcerated. In the last year, she has…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
News

Legalizing the possession of drugs for personal use would probably help alleviate the country’s chronic prison overcrowding and allow a fresh approach to the problems of drug dependence

For the past decade, Mexico has pursued a “war on drugs” with catastrophic consequences — drug-related violence has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people. Last month, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that prohibiting the personal use of…
News
The United States is providing early release this weekend for 6,000 inmates who have been serving federal sentences for non-violent drug crimes -- the biggest one-time release of inmates in US history. It's a sign of a tectonic shift occurring in the…
U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff depart a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 30, 2015.
News
Pernambuco’s prisons have become a haven of private enterprise. Imagine, if you can, what it is like to be imprisoned there. For 2,000 reais (USD530), you could buy a place to sleep, a narrow wooden cubicle where you can throw a mattress and prop a fan.…
Makeshift “barracos,” or cubicles, inside Pavilion 7 at Presídio Juiz Antônio Luiz L. de Barros (PJALLB), in Recife.
Video
(São Paulo, October 20, 2015) –The Brazilian state of Pernambuco has effectively turned over its vastly overcrowded prisons to hand-picked inmate “keyholders,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Pernambuco prison system holds more…
News

Among Brazil’s Overpacked Prisons, Pernambuco Tops the List

(São Paulo) – The Brazilian state of Pernambuco has effectively turned over its vastly overcrowded prisons to hand-picked inmate “keyholders,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Pernambuco prison system holds more than three times as…
Penitenciária Agro-Industrial São João
Report
Map of Pernambuco State in Brazil Brazil’s prisons are a human-rights disaster. Detainees—even those who have not been convicted of a crime—are routinely held in overcrowded, violent, and disease-ridden cells.…
News

“Custody Hearings” Improve Due Process, Reduce Prison Overcrowding

(São Paulo) – The Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Commission in Brazil’s Senate should approve a bill that would introduce basic due process procedures to prevent arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said today. The measure can also reduce prison…
A judge holds a custody hearing for a detainee in São Paulo on May 11, 2015, with the participation of a prosecutor and a public defender.
News
Luiz is one of the adolescents who would be tried as an adult in Brazil if its Congress approves a Constitutional amendment to lower the age of criminal majority. He is 17 and was living on the streets of a city near São Paulo in January when he was…
News

Custody Hearings Help Curb Overcrowding

(São Paulo) – A pilot program in northeastern Brazil is reducing the number of people sent to pretrial detention, a major factor in prison overcrowding and gang recruitment, Human Rights Watch said today. The program in Maranhão state promptly brings…
News

Further Steps Needed to Protect Detainees

(São Paulo, July 28, 2014) – Torture remains a serious problem in Brazil despite recent measures to curb the practice, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the Brazilian Congress. Congress should approve a bill that would safeguard against ill-…
News

Letter to São Paulo State Government

His Excellency Geraldo Alckmin  Governor of the State of Sao Paulo   Dear Governor Geraldo Alckmin, We are writing to share with you our concerns regarding torture and other mistreatment of detainees by police and prison authorities…
News

Letter to Congress

Washington, D.C., July 28, 2014   Renan Calheiros Senator, President of the Federal Senate of Brazil   Vital do Rêgo Senator, President of the Senate Commission on the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship   Humberto Costa Senator, Rapporteur on Draft Law…
News

Human Rights Watch's Submission to the Human Rights Council

Police violence continues to be one of the country’s most intractable human rights problems. Faced with high levels of violent crime, especially in the country’s urban centers, some police engage in abusive practices rather than pursuing sound policing…
News
(Santiago) — Following the arrest today in Santiago of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, the Chilean authorities must ensure that extradition proceedings are carried out fairly and expeditiously, Human Rights Watch said. Fujimori, who governed…