Organisation Internationale de Droit du Développement

IDLO-Backed House of Rights Opens in Rio

Cidade de Deus, Rio’s deprived neighborhood made famous by the eponymous 2002 film, is about to host Brazil’s first “House of Rights” (Casa de Direitos).

The House of Rights project aims to bring essential legal and justice service closer to vulnerable communities living on the edges of Brazil’s cities, with a view to promoting fuller enjoyment of fundamental rights, fostering civic culture and creating a climate of confidence in state institutions.

The project is carried out jointly by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Rio Government (Secretariat for Social Assistance and Human Rights), with technical support provided by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) through the EU’s EUROsociAL program.

In 2009, Cidade de Deus became the second Rio favela to be “pacified” through a massive military police operation, resulting in the expulsion of drug traffickers and the establishment of a special police unit in the area (Unidad de Polícia Pacificadora – UPP). While crime rates have dramatically decreased since then, the presence of state institutions is still weak and relations with the police remain tense.

“Opening a House of Rights in Cidade de Deus sends a strong signal that the government cares for this and other marginalized communities,” said Elena Incisa di Camerana, senior project coordinator for IDLO. “By strengthening the capacity of institutions to respond to the needs of vulnerable communities and empowering people to know and claim their rights, the “House of Rights” project will promote more equal access to rights and justice for all.”