Custody hearings lower rates of pretrial detention, but show structural problems in Brazilian criminal justice system

By Mirte Postema

Headed DPLF’s Judicial Independence Program from 2009 to 2015. She is currently Fellow for Human Rights, Criminal Justice and Prison Reform in the Americas at the Stanford Human Rights Center at Stanford Law School.

Originally published in  ilg2.org

Versión en español

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Pretrial detention should be an exceptional measure. According to the inter-American system of human rights (comprised of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington, D.C., and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights based in San Jose, Costa Rica), States are only allowed to apply it for procedural purposes: when there is a risk that the defendant might flee (and the case might thus not be brought to justice), and/or where proceedings (such as the investigation of the case) might be affected. Even in such situations—which must be corroborated by facts, not suppositions—the application of pretrial detention must be necessary, limited, and proportional, and should be reviewed periodically. The mere existence of indications of guilt of the defendant is not sufficient for the application of pretrial detention.

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Audiencias de custodia disminuyen el uso de la prisión preventiva pero muestran problemas estructurales en el sistema de justicia brasileño

Por: Mirte Postema

Encabezó el Programa de independencia judicial de DPLF entre el 2009 y el 2015. Actualmente es Fellow para derechos humanos y reforma de la política criminal y carcelaria en las Américas en el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Stanford 

Publicado originalmente en  ilg2.org

English version

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La prisión preventiva debe ser una medida excepcional. De acuerdo al sistema interamericano de derechos humanos (compuesto por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos con sede en Washington, D.C., y la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos con sede en San José, Costa Rica), un Estado sólo la puede aplicar por propósitos procedimentales, es decir, cuando hay un riesgo de que el acusado pueda escapar (y que, por ende, no pueda seguirse el proceso judicial) y/o cuando la investigación o las diligencias puedan ser afectadas. Incluso en estas situaciones —que deben ser corroboradas con hechos y no suposiciones— la aplicación de la prisión preventiva debe ser necesaria, limitada, proporcional y revisada periódicamente. La mera existencia de indicios de culpabilidad del acusado no es suficiente para la aplicación de la prisión preventiva.

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Cuatro preguntas para la MACCIH

Por: Mirte Postema

Encabezó el Programa de independencia judicial de DPLF entre el 2009 y el 2015. Actualmente es Fellow para derechos humanos y reforma de la política criminal y carcelaria en las Américas en el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Stanford

English version

Publicado originalmente en  ilg2.org

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Foto: OEA

El lunes 22 de febrero de 2016 se presentó en Honduras la Misión de Apoyo para Combatir la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras (MACCIH). La MACCIH es un mecanismo híbrido, respaldado por la Organización de Estados Americanos, y establecido para apoyar a las instituciones hondureñas encargadas de prevenir la corrupción y la impunidad. La creación de la MACCIH es una medida drástica; deja claro que el Estado hondureño, por cualquier razón, no es capaz de investigar y sancionar los casos de corrupción adecuadamente. Sin embargo, para quienes han seguido la situación de Honduras, esto no es ninguna sorpresa.

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Judicial reforms alone are not enough to strengthen the judiciary. Lessons for MACCIH and the Alliance for Prosperity°

Mirte Postema

Mirte Postema headed DPLF’s Judicial Independence Program from 2009 to 2015. She is currently Fellow for Human Rights, Criminal Justice and Prison Reform in the Americas at the Stanford Human Rights Center at Stanford Law School.

Versión en español

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Foto: Lesther Castillo

There has been no shortage of efforts to strengthen judicial institutions in Central America. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in judicial reform alone in recent decades. And although these initiatives have had certain tangible effects—for instance, new laws and courts were created—public trust in the judiciary has only diminished in the countries of the Northern Triangle.

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El fortalecimiento de la justicia requiere más que sólo reformas judiciales. Lecciones para la MACCIH y la Alianza para la Prosperidad

 

Por: Mirte Postema

Mirte Postema encabezó el Programa de independencia judicial de DPLF entre el 2009 y el 2015. Actualmente, es Fellow para derechos humanos y reforma de la política criminal y carcelaria en las Américas en el Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Stanford 

English Version

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Foto: Lesther Castillo

Esfuerzos para fortalecer las instituciones judiciales en Centroamérica no han faltado. Solamente en la reforma judicial, se ha invertido cientos de millones de dólares en las últimas décadas. Y aunque las iniciativas financiadas han tenido ciertos efectos tangibles -por ejemplo, la creación de nuevas leyes y cortes- la confianza ciudadana en el poder judicial en los países del Triángulo Norte ha bajado.

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Righting Guatemala’s Broken Judicial Selection Process

Lea la versión en español aquí

Author: Mirte Postema* for Americas Quarterly

GuatemalaseleccionThis year has been important for Guatemala’s judicial system. A number of judicial posts are due to be filled in 2014, and so far this year, a new electoral tribunal and attorney general have already taken office.

In July, the selection process for Supreme Court and appeals court magistrates began. However, these two selection processes were rife with irregularities and controversy. On October 9, Guatemala’s Constitution Court (CC) issued a provisional ruling suspending the results of the two selection processes, thus taking an important step towards compliance with international standards and national law.

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CICIG Investigation Could Be a Game-Changer for Guatemala

Lea la versión en español aquí

Author: Mirte Postema* for Americas Quarterly

MP StaffOn September 3, 2014, Guatemala’s director of the penitentiary system, Edgar Camargo, and its former deputy director, Edy Fisher, were arrested—as were several others—for their participation in a crime ring run by a convicted felon from inside a Guatemalan prison.

These arrests were produced following an investigation done by the Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (United Nations International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala—CICIG), which is tasked with the investigation and disbanding of illicit and clandestine security structures in the country. The investigation (which is still ongoing) revealed that a convicted felon, Byron Lima Oliva, was the real authority in the Guatemalan prison system.

CICIG reported that Lima Oliva had unheard-of privileges, such as access to phones and the Internet, frequently received guests, and left prison when he wished—and documented all this on his Facebook page. Lima’s power apparently extended to running a textile factory in Pavoncito prison with the labor of other prisoners, and arranging for benefits—such as cell phones, food, conjugal visits, and the transfers of detainees from one prison to another.

Those transfers provide a good example of how the crime ring operated: Lima would receive a detainee’s request. A sum of money would then be paid to Lima’s romantic partner, Alejandra Reyes (now also detained) in the spa she operated in Guatemala City. A small part of that money would be paid to Camargo, who then authorized the transfer. During his imprisonment, Lima thus acquired a large amount of luxury properties, vehicles and horses.

Read the full article here.

*Mirte Postema is the senior program officer of the Judicial Independence Program at the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF). Follow her on Twitter: @MirtePostema