On 14th November, 2018, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) and SIRA – Network of therapeutic, legal and psychosocial support in contexts of violence, submitted an expert opinion to several Brazilian federal authorities calling for the standard forensic questions for torture investigations established in guidelines from the Ministry of Justice to be reviewed in light of international standards.
Following two years of trainings and discussions with prosecutors, judges, lawyers, public defenders and forensic doctors in Brazil, the three institutions concluded that the current standard forensic questions (based on criminal legislation from the 1940s) represent an obstacle to the documentation and investigation of torture in light of international standards binding for the country.
The expert opinion outlines three main issues vis-à-vis these standard forensic questions: (i) disregard for torture as an autonomous criminal offense, (ii) placing on doctors the responsibility to account for the occurrence of torture, and (iii) hurdles faced by investigative authorities.
IBAHRI and these partner organisations call on Brazil to reform the standards questions and carry out its obligation to prevent, investigate and punish torture and ill-treatment in accordance with International Law. The document finalizes by providing three practical recommendations.