The universal declaration of human rights is a significant document in protecting human rights. Drafted and adopted in 1948 by the General Assembly resolution 217A, it provides a common framework and a standard for all people and nations around the world to protect the rights of their fellow men. It provides a universal standard for the protection of human rights. The declaration gives guidance to Member States, individuals, and all stakeholders to teach, educate and advocate for the rights embedded in the Declaration, both nationally and internationally, in an effort to secure acceptance, recognition and significantly promote their observance by member countries and their people.
Brazil participated in the signing of the United States declaration on human rights. Although it has made efforts to end torture and violence as stipulated in article 5 of the declaration, it has not been sufficient, and new laws need to be made to ensure that torture cannot continue. These laws must then be enforced by Brazil, its closets partners, and the international community to ensure that an end to torture is realized forthwith.
How Brazil is violating article 5 of the universal declaration
Article 5 of the universal declaration of human rights is a statement dissuading individuals from engaging in torture and cruelty. It imposes that no person shall be tortured or subjected to cruelty, inhumane treatment or punishment. Human rights are covered and protected by the constitution of Brazil. There are numerous avenues, however, where the respect and protection of such human rights are of concern. The use of police brutality and torture persist as key contraventions of human rights. Summary executions and slavery have also been cited in several quarters as other factors to be wary of.
The Brazilian government has been accused of among other infractions, unlawful killings, beatings, the use of excessive force, and the torture of detainees by the police and the military. In addition to this, government agencies have been accused of their inefficiency at protecting witnesses to criminal cases, prolonged detention, and delays in providing trial and judgment, reluctance to prosecute corrupt government officials, violence against women especially those under detention, and forced labor.
How Brazil’s laws are not stopping this torture
Prison facilities in Brazil are some of the most crowded prisons the world over, with a history of some of the worst forms of torture, meted out to its inmates. Prison facilities in this country are usually overcrowded with the youth composing the largest group of persons in these prisons. Weird laws that prohibit the sale of watermelons, for instance, in certain towns make it hard for the youth to earn a living, a law which does not guide behavior but pushes them to jail. The long period within which the police and prosecutor that the law grants them to complete investigations and prosecute an offender ensures that individuals are locked up in pre-trial prisons for extended periods of time before their trial and final judgment.
There is an absence of an outstanding policy to complement the laws against torture, a phenomenon that weakens the opportunity for accountability and an end to torture. The Brazilian constitution seems to favor its officers, especially where such officers are in the wrong. Most cases involving the police, from the abuse of transvestite prostitutes, physical abuse, to torture, take extremely long to be investigated, and in almost all cases, result in no prosecution or punishment. Such police officers are often transferred to different districts in the same capacities.
Laws to stop the torture
There is need to institute a law to prohibit the incarceration of individuals before the determination of their cases. Brazilian prisons have an enormous population of pre-trial detainees who end up unnecessarily tortured. In addition to this, a law reducing the time that it takes for an individual to be brought before a judge to 24 hours, should be instituted to reduce the number of people in pre-trial cells.
Brazilian law does not have a time provision for custody hearing where victims of torture can report such abuse to judges. Such a law needs to be implemented for these victims to be in a position to report such excesses to their judges within 24 hours, when the evidence of the crime is still available, and to prevent the use of confessions generated through torture in court.
There is already an existing law signed in 2013, which created the national mechanism to prevent and fight torture. This law mandates the institution to go round to all military and civilian locations and investigate accusations of torture and deprivation of liberty. This team provides reprieve to the victims of torture since it provides an avenue for reporting such incidents. This team is also important as it is empowered to ask for investigations of such alleged torture, make recommendations for prosecution and eradication of torture.
How other countries can assist in enforcing these laws
The human rights declaration is signed by over 150 countries around the world. Although it is the responsibility of each state to implement declarations emanating from such meetings, each signatory to these statutes is required to hold their partners to account against such declarations. Other countries, therefore, need to play an oversight role in the implementation of such measures agreed and signed against.
The international community should support Brazil by making it difficult for torturers from Brazil from accessing and living in their countries. Through international treaties, such countries should deport such individuals back to Brazil to face trial, and not accommodate or provide a safe-haven for them. Such actions would discourage would-be torturers from torture since they would be held to account regardless of where they escape to.
Although there are about 155 signatories’ to the universal declaration of human rights, its full implementation has been significantly low. Some rights such as those against torture and inhumane treatment, are increasingly violated in Brazil raising a significant worldwide outcry. Brazil, just like most countries in the world, has instituted laws to counter torture, however, its implementation is still below par, allowing for the thriving of inhumane acts on vulnerable populations such inmates and prostitutes. There is need to institute commissions whose work is to investigate and prosecute such cases of improper treatment. Governments also need to come together to ensure compliance with international law and strengthen their resolve at internationally banning this vice not only in Brazil but across countries.