Human Rights Society of Maranhão – SMDH Maranhão
Custody Hearings: seeds of hope
Objetivos e público prioritário
To evaluate the implementation and efficiency of custody hearings aiming at reducing temporary detentions in Maranhão, with a view to raising awareness to the selective violence employed by the justice system, which relates to social class, race/color and territory.
- Visits to the Screening Unit.
- Interviews with pre-trial detainees and their families.
- Monitoring of custody hearings in São Luiz.
- Reporting of visits and monitoring.
- Systematization and analysis of data on the situation of pre-trial detainees in custody hearings.
- Organization of meetings with government bodies involved in the issue.
- Dissemination of the content produced.
In Maranhão, there is a large predominance of black, young men (82.9%), among the murder victims in the period between 2000 and 2012. Black men are the victims in 85% of the fatalities in the period. In the decade, the state had the third highest growth in the homicide rate of young population (184.5%), second only to Rio Grande do Norte (293.6%) and Bahia (249%) numbers.
Young black men also encompass more than half the number of people incarcerated.
In 2012, São Luis, the capital of Maranhão, held the sixth highest young people homicide rate among all Brazilian capitals, with 119.9 deaths/100.000 young people. The homicide rate among young black men reached 160.1 deaths/100.000 inhabitants. Proportionally, for every young white man dead in the capital, 6.5 young black men were killed.
Another aspect of violence is incarceration.
In 2013, in Maranhão, the number of black (29.4%) and brown (48.1%) male prisoners totaled 77.5% of all prisoners, according to data provided by the Public Security Brazilian Yearbook 2015.
São Luiz featured one of the most dramatic situations of prison violence in Brazil, registering 82 murders from October 2013 to March 2015. Most of the men killed were temporary prisoners. Torture and rebellions complaints were also registered.
This situation led the Human Rights Society of Maranhão and three other organizations to search for the assistance of the OAS Human Rights Commission, which in 2013 granted precautionary measures that were later transformed into provisional measures in 2014.
Because of that, Brazil was forced to take “all necessary measures to effectively protect the life and personal integrity of all persons deprived of liberty at the Pedrinhas prison complex”.
Still, the prisons remain overcrowded, there is abuse of authority, torture, ill-treatment, punishment, disregard for the detainees’ family and unsanitary and degrading conditions to the daily life.
About the organization
The Human Rights Society of Maranhão was founded in 1979, in a period marked by serious violations. It quickly became a space for activism that gathered social movements of Maranhão against the dictatorship supporting the struggle for the country’s democratization. Since then, it adopts a course of action that articulates training, social and political mobilization. A considerable number of complaints presented by them to the OAS (Organization of American States) was accepted, including the provisional measures of Pedrinhas prison complex filed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Criminal Justice / Racism / Northeast of Brazil (2016)
Guaranteeing the rule of law and criminal justice