Drug users sentenced to prison; relatives of drug users arbitrarily detained; homes registered without judicial orders. These and many other abuses committed by law enforcement agents carrying out Brazil’s Drug Laws, will be brought to the public’s attention through the Case Study Database being launched Dec. 7th in Rio de Janeiro.

The Case Study Database –Banco de Injustiças in Portuguese- is a joint initiative of the Brazilian Commission on Drugs and Democracy and the National Association of Public Defenders. It aims to promote a debate among legal professionals about the absence of basic constitutional principles in Brazil’s Drug Laws such as the right to health care, limits on the punitive power of the State and, above all, the democratic spirit of the rule of law.

The database, created with the support of Viva Rio under the coordination of Pedro Abramovay, a former Secretary of Legislative Affairs at the Ministry of Justice and currently a law professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, will compile case studies reported from all over the country by public defense lawyers.

The initiative will be launched December 7th during a conference to celebrate the 18th anniversary of Viva Rio, a Rio de Janeiro-based organization dedicated to promoting a culture of peace and social inclusion.

Among other special guests partaking in the Viva Rio conference are former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the Governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral; the coordinator of the Police Pacification Units, Colonel Rogerio Seabra; the president of the National Association of Public Attorneys, and members of the Brazilian Commission on  Drugs and Democracy.

Mr. Cardoso, member of the Global Commission on Drugs, has become one of the most active political leaders pushing for a more humane and effective drug policy.

The Study Database will also provide a platform so that other individuals and organizations, including religious groups that work inside prisons, can report allegations of abuses related to the enforcement of Brazil’s drug laws.

The case studies will be published online starting December 7th here and during the first half of 2012 a book will be published gathering the most relevant stories. Videos will be used to help tell the human tragedy behind the increasing number of people going to jail every day because of drug-related crimes.

Brazil’s already overcrowded prisons have been burdened by an unprecedented surge in inmates since Brazil’s Congress reformed the country’s drug laws in 2006, Between 2007 and 2010, the prison population for drug-related crimes increased 62.5%. Most of those jailed are first-time offenders with no relationship with criminal organizations, according to an investigation by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the University of Brasilia.

Pedro Abramovay, commenting on the important work of Public Defense Attorneys, explained that “they are the ones who live every day with the reality of the criminal justice system; who keep track of the daily incarceration of drug users treated as if they were drug traffickers; the stories of mothers detained while trying to smuggle small amounts of drugs to save the life of their sons in prisons run by drug-trafficking gangs… These are the stories people need to know.”

For further information:

Andrea Domínguez Duque
aduque@vivario.org.br
(57+21) 7506 6934

Fabiana Lustosa
fabianagaspar@vivacomunidade.org.br

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