HomeNewsBriefBrazil's Rio de Janeiro Approves Controversial ‘Faceless Courts’
BRIEF

Brazil's Rio de Janeiro Approves Controversial ‘Faceless Courts’

BRAZIL / 9 JUL 2019 BY JOSEFINA SALOMÓN EN

Authorities in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro have created a special court of “faceless judges” to prosecute cases involving drug trafficking, organized crime and money laundering, although providing such anonymity has generated controversy in other countries.

The new special court was approved by Rio de Janeiro’s Court of Justice (Tribunal de Justiça) on July 1 and will start working in August of this year, reported O Globo. The identity of its judges, who will rotate in and out every 60 days, will remain secret as a security measure.

The president of Rio de Janeiro's Court of Justice, Claudio de Mello Tavares, said the special court is designed to take attention away from individual judges.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

“The expansion of the militias and drug trafficking motivated the creation of these special tribunals, and they will help guarantee the judges' safety,” he told O Globo.

Rio de Janeiro has become the seventh state in Brazil to adopt "faceless judges," which are already being used in Pará, Mato Grosso, Bahia, Roraima, Santa Catarina and Alagoas.

The "faceless tribunals" originated in Italy, where they were used to try members of local mafias. More controversially, these courts were also used in Colombia in the 1990s to try leaders of drug trafficking organizations.

InSight Crime Analysis

The use of anonymous tribunals might do more harm than good in a country already facing serious scrutiny for its policies aimed at tackling insecurity and organized crime.

Brazil -- home to some of the most powerful and violent criminal organizations in the region, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) and Red Command (Comando Vermelho) -- has seen gang members and militia groups attack and even kill judges.

Currently about two dozen judges in Rio are provided with 24-hour police protection as a result of death threats, according to the Court of Justice.

SEE ALSO: Police Exercise License to Kill in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro

Judges in Brazil have praised the new "faceless courts" as an additional protection measure, but similar experiments in other countries have generated controversy.

“Faceless courts” were established in Colombia in the late 1990s to try drug trafficking and terrorism cases. Human rights groups, however, were critical of the practice.

While prosecutors at the time said violence aimed at judges and attorneys justified the use of these courts, human rights campaigners stated the system was overused and violated due process by not letting prisoners know who was judging them.

There was also ample concern as to whether these courts were simply for show, and if they had any real difference on protecting judges, who tended to be well-known in Colombia.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 16 MAR 2022

Rocco Morabito’s story has all the makings of a great film script. The Italian mob, tons of cocaine, exotic destinations,…

BRAZIL / 6 SEP 2022

Brazil’s anti-contraband operations on the Paraguay border are upsetting Paraguayans and doing little to stop smuggling.

BRAZIL / 24 MAR 2022

The 2021 ranking of the world's most violent cities predictably features a heavy presence by Latin American and Caribbean population…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…