During a three-day visit to Brazil that wrapped up yesterday, the top United Nations human rights official praised the South American country’s recent accomplishments in that realm but pointed out that other obstacles remain.
“Brazil has demonstrated leadership at the international level in the area of human rights,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said. “The country realized significant achievements in the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS, although challenges remain, particularly in the administration of justice and the enforcement of other rights enshrined in the 1988 Constitution, and especially with regards to indigenous rights.”
She encouraged the South American country’s Government to bolster efforts to improve the administration of justice, particularly the widespread use of pre-trial detention.
The High Commissioner also suggested innovative measures to alleviate prison overcrowding, further accountability among law enforcement officials and prevent abuses against detainees.
On her last day in the country, she delivered a lecture on poverty as both cause and consequence of human rights violations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and stopped at the community of Vigario Geral, where she learned about projects to bring peace through arts by less privileged youth.
The High Commissioner’s visit, her first to Brazil, came after the Government extended an invitation. Stopping at Brasilia, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, she met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, federal Government officials and the federal Supreme Court.
She also held talks with state authorities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to discuss the country’s human rights successes and challenges, as well as with civil society organizations to hear their concerns.