At a breakfast with journalists this Friday (2), the Minister of Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, stated that the privatization of prisons opens up space for organized crime in the penitentiary system and that this is unconstitutional, as it would be delegating to the market the execution of sentences, which is the responsibility of the State.
“I think that privatization, whether of prisons or of the socio-educational system, opens up space for infiltration by organized crime, which is contrary to what we want to do. We open space for organized crime to have another little piece of the Brazilian state. It is unacceptable that we make room for this type of thing that we are doing”, stated the minister.
He commented on the matter when asked about the decree issued last year by the vice-president, Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), and the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad (PT), which includes prisons and public security in the Investment Partnership Program, the PPI . The minister made it clear that his personal position, as well as the position of the department, is against the privatization of prisons.
“It is normal for there to be this type of divergence (with the economic area), but that is my position”, continued the minister. According to him, privatizations could even be considered illegal.
“Ultimately, it becomes the privatization of the execution of the sentence, this cannot happen, because it is unconstitutional, it is illegal. This is the debate that has to be had”, continued the minister. He explained that, in many cases, it is alleged that privatization only involves the construction of buildings or even the outsourcing of some services, but that, in practice, this would end up transferring the execution of the sentence to a private company, which is an attribution of the State.
“If we open space for this type of thing to happen, it will become a big business and like a big business there could be infiltration by organized crime, because it will open up space for profit, even more so in a scheme like this”, he explained.
The topic is being debated by the federal government, so the Ministry of Human Rights has already forwarded its official position to the Palácio do Planalto.
National Human Rights Network
Silvio Almeida also took advantage of the meeting to announce some proposals that he intends to implement until the end of the government and said that his department will start mapping human rights entities across the country to build a national Human Rights network.
“I want President Lula’s greatest legacy in the field of Human Rights to be the creation of the national human rights network. We are going to change the role of the ombudsman, it will no longer be about receiving complaints, but rather about receiving, monitoring and activating partners in the territory”, continued the minister. Currently, the department has a National Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, a channel for the population to register their doubts, complaints and reports of disrespect for human rights in the country.
Despite receiving the information, the Ministry of Human Rights is currently unable to gather information on developments in cases after complaints are filed. To change this, the minister intends for this national structure to be capable of carrying out this monitoring, including using partner entities.
“We are going to take the areas in which each entity operates and put them in conjunction with the Ministry’s competencies. We are still in an assembly phase,” she explained.
In addition to the network itself, the minister took advantage of his speech to reinforce the importance of expanding and institutionalizing the Human Rights agenda in the government and drew attention to the fact that the government had launched, within the unified national competition, a notice to fill 40 vacancies in specialist in Human Rights and Citizenship.
House of death
Silvio Almeida also said that the ministry is working to transform the Casa da Morte, a property in Petrópolis that served as a clandestine government torture center during the military dictatorship, into a memorial as part of initiatives to mark the 60th anniversary of the military coup in 1964.
“We are at an advanced stage so that we can acquire the House of Death and transform it into a memorial, to remember the victims of the military dictatorship, so as not to forget those who fell so that Brazil could breathe”, stated Silvio Almeida. According to the minister, the property is undergoing an expropriation process and the department is working together with the city hall and the Federal Public Ministry to ensure that the property becomes a public memorial. The Ministry has even contacted the Fluminense Federal University to prepare the memorial project for the site.
Still on the 60th anniversary of the military coup, the minister explained that all the documentation necessary for the reinstallation of the Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances has already been forwarded to the Presidency of the Republic and that it now depends on President Lula to move forward with this. “The internship today is awaiting the deliberation of the Presidency of the Republic”, he stated.
Silvio Almeida also took advantage of the chat with journalists to refute some of the criticism he was receiving, including within the government itself for allegedly being too academic. In response, he attributed the criticism to a mixture of “stupidity and racism” and recalled that President Lula, since his first presidential campaign in 1989, has always been surrounded by academically well-regarded assistants and ministers.
“I have a triple degree. My training is in law, philosophy and economics. It is a very similar training — master’s degree, doctorate and post-doctorate in economics — with that of another minister, whose name is Fernando Haddad. My friend dear Fernando Haddad”, he said.
“Why, for me, in my case, my qualities become defects? Do you understand?”, he stated. “I was a professor at Columbia University, I was a professor at Duke University, I was a professor at the Fundação Getulio Vargas School of Administration, I’m a professor at the law school. Did you understand? But all of this, for me, becomes a problem. Why? Because I’m black.”
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho