Toward Fair Play: A Decade of Transformation and Resistance in International Human Rights Advocacy in Brazil
Publication Date:September 01, 2002
The fundamental challenge Brazil’s human rights lawyers face today is the inability of mechanisms for monitoring compliance with treaties, as well as for ensuring international bodies’ decisions are implemented in Brazil, to function properly. Though Brazil has ratified several human rights treaties, it has not granted jurisdiction to the oversight bodies these treaties establish. The article discusses the importance of providing training for Brazilian human rights activists on how to file complaints through the inter-American system. While the use of this system is increasing as a result of such training, it is still relatively limited in comparison to neighboring states and in relation to its population. Getting the state to participate in good faith remains the greatest challenge. The case of the 42nd Police District, Parque São Luca, São Paulo is used to illustrate how the Brazilian government can still be prodded towards coming to terms with its violations, even if it refuses to participate in good faith through the judicial process. The article also highlights both the role of the media in encouraging the state to participate, and the importance of teaching human rights professionals how to work with the media. Finally, the shift towards greater use of the United Nations mechanisms for filing human rights complaints and the official visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture is discussed. It concludes that while Brazil still has a ways to go, its human rights advocates have made considerable progress.