Last Friday (13), the Human Rights Defense Commission of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj) awarded the Tiradentes Medal to the cultural producer Ângelo Gustavo Nobre, who spent almost a year unfairly incarcerated. In addition to the young man, 10 other people who were wrongly arrested for mistakes in police inquiries based on photographic recognition received motions of praise.
“I still feel a lot of relief to this day as I help other people who have been and are going through the same thing as me. I hope that no one else suffers from this”, said Nobre, who became an activist for victims of errors in criminal proceedings.
The case of Ângelo Gustavo gained national repercussion. The young man was accused of participating in a car theft in 2014. At the time, he was recovering from invasive lung surgery and, at the time of the crime, was attending a mass in the company of his family.
The cultural producer was arrested in September 2020, based on a photographic recognition carried out through a social network. He was convicted in the second instance and spent 363 days in jail, until the Fourth Group of Criminal Chambers of the Court of Justice (TJRJ) reversed the judgment.
Deputy Dani Monteiro (PSol), president of the Human Rights Commission, is the author of Bill 5,896/22 that establishes the monitoring and tracking of investigations using the facial recognition tool in the state. The text of the proposal establishes, among other measures, that every photo recognition event held at police headquarters must be registered in the Civil Police’s computerized system.
“The practice of photographic recognition, if adopted, must exist in line with our code of criminal procedure. We need to create jurisprudence and denaturalize the idea of investigation resolution with photographic recognition as the only evidence. Creating legislation that fights, controls and maps data on human rights violations is part of the practice of what we believe contributes to a national debate”, added the parliamentarian.
A survey by the Public Defender’s Office of Rio de Janeiro (DPRJ) presented in 2020 shows that there was an error in at least 58 cases of photographic recognition that resulted in unjust accusations and even in the arrest of people who had nothing to do with the crime they were accused of. The survey reinforces the impact of structural racism: 70% of those wrongly accused were black.
“There is a ‘color of crime’ pattern. There is a social profile that is vulnerable and, consequently, held responsible for committing crimes: they are those who are not innocent until proven guilty, but who need to prove their innocence to access freedom,” said the president of the Commission.
Source: BdF Rio de Janeiro
Editing: Jaqueline Deister