Case Study Database, the stories behind the statistics


Case Study Database, the stories behind the statistics

6 December 2011

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, are being brought to the public’s attention through the Case Study Database recently launched 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, compiles case studies reported from all over the country by public defense lawyers.

The initiative was 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.

The Study Database also provides 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 are being published online at

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, please contact: Andrea Domínguez Duque or Fabiana Lustosa

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