Incidences of torture could be even higher than reported, as the suspension of family visits in most areas means that evidence of torture is less likely to be detected, the report asserted.
Brazil is home to over 800,000 inmates, the third highest prison population in the world, after the United States and China.
The CNBB received 90 complaints from prisoners of ill-treatment between March 15-Oct. 31, 2020. This is up from 53 reports received during the same period in 2019, and 44 in 2018, they said.
Only eight of the 90 reported torture incidents led to an investigation by the Prison Ministry, the report said.
According to data collected by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) of Brazil, rates of coronavirus infection in Brazilian prisons increased by 800% between May and June 2020, and death rates doubled.
The bishops have criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The CNJ recommended allowing prisoners suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19 to be placed under house arrest rather than remaining in a crowded prison.
Torture and violence in Brazilian prisons is not a new phenomenon.
In Oct. 2019, a federal prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Pará issued a report stating that members of a security task force had been torturing prisoners by way of “beatings with brooms, daily attacks with rubber bullets and pepper spray, impalement of the anus, and the piercing of feet with nails, among other atrocities,” the Brazilian newspaper El País reported.