The trial of the first case involving accusations against Brazil in the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Human Rights Court began Wednesday, November 30, in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The Brazilian State is charged with criminal acts and criminal neglect in the 1999 death of Damião Ximenes Lopes on the premises of the Guararapes Rest Home, in the interior of the state of Ceará. The psychiatric facility was part of the network of private institutions accredited by the federal health system (SUS, Sistema íšnico de Saúde – Unified Health System).
In October, 1999, Lopes, who was 30 years old at the time, was hospitalized by his mother, Albertina Ximenes, to undergo psychiatric treatment at the Guararapes Rest Home, the only psychiatric clinic in the region around Sobral, in the interior of the northeastern state of Ceará. He died 3 days later.
According to the family, Lopes was a victim of abuse, torture, and neglect on the part of the physicians and aides who worked at the clinic, leading to his premature death. The clinic’s SUS accreditation was suspended, and nowadays it is no longer in operation.
The case was analyzed by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) and then directed to the Court, which is empowered to judge and convict the countries that ratified the American Convention on Human Rights. Brazil is one of the signatories.
The Secretariat of Human Rights, the Attorney-General’s office, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Foreign Relations prepared Brazil’s court defense.
According to a note issued by the Secretariat of Human Rights’ press office, Brazil argues that it is changing its form of psychiatric treatment, replacing the hospitalization model with alternative approaches.