Annual Report: Brazil 2011

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Annual Report: Brazil 2011

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  • In October, rival factions killed 18 prisoners, four of whom were decapitated, in two facilities in Maranhão state. The riots began after prisoners complained about overcrowding, the poor quality of the food and lack of access to water.

In November, following criticism by the state Human Rights Commission and local NGOs, the Espírito Santo state authorities closed the Judicial Police Department in Vila Velha, which had been holding up to eight times as many prisoners as it was designed to house and which had been the subject of repeated torture allegations. The controversial use of shipping containers to house prisoners in several units was also stopped. Nevertheless, inspections by the National Council of Justice reported continuing problems, including overcrowding and insanitary conditions, especially in the Tucum Women's Prison.

At the end of the year, proposals for a federal law to introduce preventative mechanisms in line with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture - ratified by Brazil in 2007 - remained stalled in the Office of the President's Chief of Staff. Meanwhile, two states, Alagoas and Rio de Janeiro, approved laws to implement the Optional Protocol in May and June respectively.

Right to adequate housing

Hundreds died and tens of thousands were made homeless in floods that swept across São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Alagoas and Pernambuco states in the first half of the year. The floods exposed the inadequacy of much of the housing and the negligence of authorities in addressing clear potential risks.

Other communities faced threats of forced eviction due to infrastructure works planned for the World Cup and the Rio Olympics.