Launch: Manual on Handcuffs and other Instruments of Restraint in Judicial Hearings

The Manual on Handcuffs and other Instruments of Restraint in Judicial Hearings was launched on 21 October 2020. It seeks to facilitate the work of the Brazilian judiciary and protect the rights of criminal suspects and others in custody, by providing technical information to reduce the over-use of instruments of restraint in the courtroom.

The manual was developed by the Omega Research Foundation, the Brazilian National Justice Council (Conselho Nacional de Justiça – CNJ), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Brazil and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The document includes practical information concerning instruments of restraint and the risks associated with their use, as well as key international norms and standards, and good practice from other jurisdictions. It seeks to support the judiciary in the implementation of Súmula Vinculante n. 11 of the Supreme Federal Court, which places strict limits on the use of instruments of restraint.

Luis Lanfredi, the Coordinating Judge of the CNJ Department of Monitoring and Control of the Penitentiary System and the System for Executing Socioeducational Measures (DMF/CNJ), emphasised that it is for the judge to decide whether handcuffs should be used in the courtroom. “We must not lose sight of the fact that the use of handcuffs increases the risk of creating prejudice in people's minds, reinforcing stigmas and even the very making of the judicial decision. Handcuffs are not harmless instruments, and some rights can potentially be affected by their use, such as the presumption of innocence and the physical and psychological integrity of the person”, he added.

This manual was one of several produced under the Justiça Presente programme of work, which has now begun a second cycle of work under the name Fazendo Justiça. Omega looks forward to supporting the judiciary to implement the manual, sharing it in other jurisdictions and continuing our collaboration with the CNJ.