Augusto de Arruda Botelho on the Advantages and Challenges of Custodial Hearings

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Augusto de Arruda Botelho hosts the event "THE CHALLENGES OF CUSTODY IN THE CITY OF SÃO PAULO" was held at the headquarters of the São Paulo Lawyers Association (AASP), in which the Institute for the defense of the right of defense (IDDD) released the report "Monitoring Custody Hearings in São Paulo.”

Data from the monitoring carried out by IDDD were presented at an event held yesterday (30), attended by the President of STF and CNJ, Minister Ricardo Lewandowski

The event "THE AUDITS OF CUSTODY IN THE CITY OF SÃO PAULO: Advances and Challenges" was held at the headquarters of the São Paulo Lawyers Association (AASP), in which the Institute for the defense of the right of defense (IDDD) released the report "Monitoring Custody Hearings in São Paulo.”

Approximately 500 people were present, among lawyers, public defenders, estate judges, academics, students and representatives of class entities honored in the solemnity, which had the distinguished presence of the President of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the National Justice Council (CNJ) Minister Ricardo Lewandowski.

During the event, Augusto de Arruda Botelho, President of IDDD, presented the main results of the monitoring carried out by the Institute between February and December 2015 at the Criminal Forum of Barra Funda, in São Paulo. Augusto celebrated the achievements of the "Audience of Custody Project", conceived by the CNJ with the support of the IDDD: "The custody audience is an absolutely new institute in the country and we will still go through a long phase of growth. There are some challenges to be overcome, including compliance with the 24-hour deadline for presenting the arrested person and combating and preventing torture and ill-treatment. Therefore, we will continue our monitoring to contribute to the improvement of the custody hearings."

Speaking on the implementation of the project, Minister Ricardo Lewandowski recalled: "When we take over the CNJ we are faced with an intolerable reality, a shame for the country which has 600,000 inmates in our prison system. We are the fourth country that holds the most people in the world. We had to take action: to change the culture of incarceration through unorthodox measures. An unusual measure was to implement the Pact of San José, Costa Rica, and to require that detainees in flagrante be presented to a judge within 24 hours.“

"Custody hearings are a breakthrough not only in the criminal process, but also a breakthrough for Brazilian civilization. Because the idea that any citizen prisoner has the right to be interviewed by a judge quickly is a huge step in human rights in Brazil and that will greatly improve the criminal process. It is a step towards using less prison as a social response,“ said Leonardo Sica, President of AASP.

At the end of the event, a tribute was paid to Minister Lewandowski for his commitment and dedication in the national implementation of the Project. "The advances made by the custody hearings would not be possible without the work of Minister Ricardo Lewandowski. In a few years, when we analyze the practical results of the "Hearing of Custody Project" and the gradual change of the punitive culture we live in today, the name of your excellence will stand out as the pioneer of this conquest," said the IDDD President.


The report "Monitoring Custody Hearings in São Paulo" presents the main aspects observed by IDDD during a ten-month follow-up of the project at the Barra Funda Criminal Forum, where the Institute was present from the first day of these hearings (February 24 2015). In total, procedural data were collected for 588 people who attended custody hearings, as well as interviews with judges, prosecutors and public defenders who are present at those hearings.

The analysis of the socioeconomic profile of the population monitored by the project shows that the majority of the accused caught in the custody hearing are men (90%), young (42% aged 18-24), low education (61%), low income (47% declared income between one and two minimum wages), most of them accused of robbery (37%). 61% were converted into custody after the custody hearing, 27% were granted provisional release without bail and with another protective measure, 6% of the prisons were relaxed, 5% received provisional release on bail. It was also observed that the rate of pre-trial detention is higher for black people (69% compared to 55% for white people).

The implementation of custody hearings in the capital of São Paulo was an important step towards the expansion of individual rights and guarantees, but in order for the potential of these hearings to be fully realized, there are some structural and technical challenges to be faced, which are pointed out in the IDDD: a deepening of debate on the deadline for immediate presentation to the judge (24 hours) and the need to ensure effective defense; use of handcuffs during the hearings and the presence of the Military Police in the place; issues of workflows, such as the match between custodial person and documents produced at the police headquarters, and the preparation of a hearing list to allow the organization of the professionals involved; defense in a non-reserved location without guaranteeing the custodian's privacy; attention to cases which police violence is reported; constant care with the production of information and transparency; integration between the public institutions involved and civil society participation.

CNJ Partnership and Ministry of Justice

The Term of Technical Cooperation signed by IDDD, CNJ and Ministry of Justice in 2015 combine efforts to implementation of the "Custody Hearing Project". At the national level, cooperation gives IDDD, as a civil society organization, the task of monitoring, analyzing the development of the project, evaluating results, collecting data and signaling impact on the Brazilian criminal justice system.

It is hoped that the information gathered in this monitoring will contribute to the consolidation and improvement of the custody hearings and, above all, to the transformation of the criminal justice system and professionals in the area, so that these are always based on respect for the Federal Constitution and International human rights treaties ratified by Brazil.

At the same time, since 2011 IDDD has been working for the approval of PLS ​​554/2011, which proposes to amend the Criminal Procedure Code to institute custody hearings. The bill is currently awaiting a vote by the Senate floor.

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