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Two Brazilian groups have launched a national campaign to change drug laws in Brazil, with the aim of reducing unnecessary imprisonment of offenders. The Brazilian Commission on Drugs and Democracy and Viva Rio, a Rio de Janeiro based community group are hoping that a million people will launch a public petition urging reform. It targets a 2006 drug law that does not make a clear distinction between people who use drugs and people with intent to distribute. This gap has resulted in a sharp increase in drug arrests, with the number of people imprisoned for carrying drugs doubling from around 60,000 to 120,000.
Drug arrests have contributed to the excessive rates of pretrial detention in Brazil’s chronically overcrowded prisons, as highlighted by the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice in a recent video. We welcomed a Federal Supreme Court ruling in May overturning a clause in the 2006 drug law that prevented any form of pretrial release for all people charged with drug-related offences.
9-VIII-12, Open Society Justice, soros.org