FINALIST: Making Justice – Judiciary Response for COVID-19 (Recommendation 62)

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Making Justice – Judiciary Response for COVID-19 (Recommendation 62)
Conselho Nacional de Justiça - CNJ, Brazil

ABOUT: Recommendation 62, approved by CNJ in March 2020, establishes guidelines to state courts and judges to take preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19, especially among confined populations. The recommendation fostered measures aimed at reducing overpopulation in prison units, promoting preventive health-care, regulating prison visits, and participation in contingency plans. The ruling was developed in the context of the Fazendo Justiça (Making Justice) Programme, a joint initiative of Brazil;s National Council of Justice (CNJ) and UNDP Brazil. The initiative has been in progress since January 2019, aiming at strengthening judiciary policies related to prison and juvenile criminal systems in Brazil.

Learn more about this project on the World Justice Challenge website.

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Hello, World Justice Challenge community.

Greetings from Brazil!

My name is Lucas and I represent the Making Justice programme. It is an honor for the Brazilian National Counsel of Justice to be a part of this community representing Brazil’s initiative, with the partnership of the United Nations Development Programme, to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemics among confined populations.

Through this channel we make ourselves available to any comments concerning the programme and welcome any questions and doubts related to the Recommendation 62 and its effects in Brazil’s prison and socio-educational systems.

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Hello, WJC! My name is Soraya Brasileiro Teixeira and I am a Judge at the Court of Justice of the State of Minas Gerais, in Brazil. First of all, I would like to congratulate the CNJ on Resolution 62, which brought effective measures to reduce the prison population in Brazil. Regarding the continuity of the project, given that Brazil is today the epicenter of the pandemic, I want to know if there is any measure for the immunization of prisoners to take place as a priority. CNJ Resolution 62 is a humanizing measure of serving time and I hope it will be a winner of the competition for its relevance. CNJ Resolution 62 opens up new perspectives for the prison system. Congratulations!!!

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I would like to add that although the Brazilian government has been slow and criticized worldwide due to its inability to make the proper decisions concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s Judiciary has been steadfast in doing the right thing about the prison system.

The CNJ Resolution 62 has therefore been good news among many bad ones in our country.

Congratulations on your good work helping advance human rights in the middle of such difficult humanitarian crisis! Saving lives must be our priority.

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Thank you for this very relevant question, Soraya.

The CNJ considers it is essential to ensure the immunization of the population deprived of liberty, particularly in the context of the prolongued health crisis in Brazil. This week, a new proposal that extends Recommendation 62 deadline and addresses further topics, such as immunization / vaccination, was issued. However, it is still pending the final debate and decision from CNJ collegiate. This is expected to happen on the next few days.

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Thank you for your support, Ricardo. We are sure that the Brazilian Judiciary priority is to protect lives and fundamental rights, no matter the circumstances. This is what Recommendation 62 - and the ones the came after it - are about.

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Hi community! Congratulations for the good work, I’m a brazilian lawyer working with social protection and seems that CNJ is the main federal actor pushing the debate about pandemic inside prisons on a regular basis. This said, I would like to know why CNJ issued a recommentadion, and not a resolution, to address this topic? Do you believe this can change in the future? Thank you.

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Dear pvelloso88, thank you for your question.
The CNJ issued a recommendation, and not a resolution, because the text also has a relevant approach to jurisdictional activity, which is protected by constitutional autonomy. Thus, the CNJ incentivized measures to be adopted, based on best practices regarding Covid-19 prevention.

Thanks for the reply, Lucas. Are there data to identify how the prison population was affected by Covid19? What about the contamination of prison officers, military and civilian police? The adoption of a strategy to prioritize these groups that normally have a lower age group would be interesting to avoid circulation and variant of the virus.

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Thank you for your questions, @sorayabrasileiro. The CNJ has been following with concern Covid data related to the prison and juvenile systems, both involving inmates and public servants. We produce and disseminate two biweekly bulletins, one with quantitative data involving cases and reported deaths, and the second with other relevant information shared with us by local courts. We are also concerned that this data may be affected by a major underreporting bias, which requires close monitoring by all the institutions involved - not only by the Judiciary Branch, but also by the Executive and control bodies, such as the Public Ministry and civic society.

Is It possible to hold custody hearings considering Covid-19 pandemic sanitary restrictions?

Can the Brazilian State keep a young person deprived of liberty on a provisional situation for more than 45 days arguing that this is related to the Covid-19 pandemic? Does it contradict national and international health protocols?

Yes. According to Art. 8, Paragraph 3 of Recommendation No. 62 of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), it is possible to hold a custody hearing, provided that the requirements established in CNJ Resolution No. 213/2015 are met. In addition, according to Recommendation 91/2021, custody hearings should be given priority when planning to return to face-to-face activities, in accordance with applicable health protocols.

Thanks for your question!

Specifically regarding the possibility of extending this period during the exceptional scenario caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), when ruling HC 580480, reaffirmed the non-extendable character of the 45-day period.

In this sense, the extension of this period implies a violation of the Statute of Children and Adolescents and Resolutions No. 165/2012 and 214/2015 of this CNJ, and it also goes against Recommendation No. 62.

What is the role of the Covid Monitoring Committees mentioned on Recommendation No. 62?

What is the relevance and benefits of the recently launc hed Escritório Social Virtual, the application for people who have been released from prisons and their families, considering the Covid-19 context?

Adriana, thank you so much for your question!

The committees induced by the CNJ are a relevant space for key actors debate and institutional cooperation to carry out the measures against Covid-19 recommended by CNJ and other authorities on a local level, with the participation of representatives of other bodies such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, lawyers, human rights associations and family members of prisoners. In addition, they are important to ensure transparency.

It aims to facilitate access to services, including documents regularization, for the population who left prisons. It’s an additional tool to the in loco assistance provided in the Escritórios Sociais and also to the psychosocial assistance provided to inmates ready to leave prisons. Considering the Covid-19 context, it avoids agglomerations in closed spaces to the sanitary safety of all involved.