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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