IACHR Extends Precautionary Measures in Favor of Persons Who Are Deprived of Liberty at the Alfredo Tranjan Penitentiary in Brazil

October 14, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 53/22 on October 11, 2022, to grant precautionary measures in favor of the persons who are deprived of liberty at Alfredo Tranjan Penitentiary (PAT) in Brazil, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

This extends precautionary measure MC-888-19, granted in 2020 in favor of persons who were deprived of liberty at the Jorge Santana Public Penitentiary (PPJS). According to beneficiaries' representatives, the PAT facility is allegedly receiving inmates transferred from the PPJS facility, who are being kept at the PAT in inadequate conditions of detention and without appropriate, timely access to medical care.

According to the information the IACHR has had access to, the PAT facility is overcrowded, unsanitary—with wastewater and trash in corridors and with many infections, among other problems—and provides inmates with neither food nor drinking water of adequate quality in sufficient quantities. Further, given the transfer of inmates from the PPJS to the PAT, some individuals who are deprived of liberty in the latter are in serious health conditions, often as a result of the circumstances in which they were arrested. The PAT allegedly holds a significant number of persons who are deprived of liberty and have disabilities but is said to lack the necessary accessible infrastructure and wheelchairs. Beneficiaries' representatives alleged delays in the required medical care, which had caused inmates irreparable harm including health problems, permanent disabilities, and even death.

The State said that inmate transfers from the PPJS to the PAT were conducted to improve healthcare for the affected individuals, since the PAT has a team of eight professionals to provide primary healthcare on a weekly basis. The State also reported renovations in the PAT's infrastructure, including the construction of two ramps in cells to improve access for wheelchair users. The State said it had created a joint working group among judicial and administrative institutions to improve compliance with the decisions of inter-American human rights bodies.

Given the information that was provided by both parties, the IACHR noted that the alleged lack of timely medical care comes in a context marked by unsanitary conditions, lack of sufficient food, water, and basic supplies, and overcrowding, which worsens beneficiaries' health conditions. The IACHR further noted that there have been cases of irreparable harm, including permanent disabilities, long-term physical problems, and death. The IACHR is particularly concerned about the conditions of detention for inmates with disabilities, who allegedly have no access to enough wheelchairs or to cells and bathrooms adapted to suit their needs, so they often remain bed-ridden, risk developing bedsores, and are completely dependent on their cellmates to carry out essential activities. While the State reported the construction of two ramps in cells to improve access for wheelchair users, this is allegedly insufficient to protect beneficiaries' lives, integrity, and health.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission granted an extension of these precautionary measures and asked the State of Brazil to take the following action:

  1. Adopt any measures necessary to protect the lives, personal integrity, and health of persons who are deprived of liberty at Alfredo Tranjan Penitentiary (particularly by ensuring the provision of adequate, timely healthcare that follows the recommendations of the relevant experts)
  2. Adopt any measures necessary to ensure that beneficiaries' conditions of detention comply with the applicable international standards (in particular, by ensuring that Alfredo Tranjan Penitentiary meets suitable security requirements given beneficiaries' disabilities and injuries [including mutilations and fractures], to prevent further impacts on all inmates), taking immediate action to substantially reduce overcrowding and enabling adequate sanitation and hygiene
  3. Take measures aimed at reassessing—based on the applicable international standards—deprivation of liberty for beneficiaries with disabilities and others with specific needs, whose lives and personal integrity may be at risk
  4. Come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  5. Report on any actions adopted to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

Based on the IACHR's 2018 visit to penitentiary facilities in Brazil (which included Jorge Santana Public Penitentiary) and considering that this decision involves an extension of precautionary measures in place, the IACHR deems it necessary to assess the situation of individuals who are deprived of liberty at both Jorge Santana Public Penitentiary and Alfredo Tranjan Penitentiary. The IACHR has asked the State to be allowed to visit both penitentiaries and to assess the implementation of these precautionary measures.

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 230/22

No. 230/22

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