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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

Decision Based on Reports of Severe Human Rights Abuses in Venezuela

On December 5, Brazil’s refugee agency (CONARE) granted asylum to 21,432 Venezuelans . Until then, CONARE had granted asylum to a total of just 263. There are currently 224,000 Venezuelans living in Brazil. In June, CONARE…
Venezuelan children play in a refugee shelter in Boa Vista, Roraima state, Brazil, August 26, 2018.
News
According to the recent UN refugee agency Global Trends report, Brazil received about 80,000 new requests for asylum in 2018,  more than double the  2017 requests. More than three-quarters -- 61,000 —came from Venezuelans. But between…
Weberson Santiago/VEJA
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
On Monday, September 19, world leaders will gather in New York for a summit on the global refugee and migrant crises. The summit has been billed as a chance to create a more responsive and orderly global system for meeting the needs of millions of people…
A still from video shows Omran, the 5-year old boy who was pulled out of the rubble after an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria on August 17, 2016.
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
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…