Valdênia Paulino

Fight against poverty and social exclusion and security in the exercise of human rights.
Center for the Defense of Children’s and Adolescents’ Rights (CEDECA) de Sapopemba

Defender against poverty and against violence in the most marginal neighborhoods of Brazil. After helping to create in 1999 the Sapopemba Human Rights Center – a peripheral center of Sao Paulo that concentrates more than 30 favelas-, her commitment to human rights led her to investigate and document allegations against the police about torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, extortions, and corruption. Defender of the citizens against Police of the State of Paraíba since September 2011 until the death threats forced her to leave office.

Interview with Valdênia Paulino

You have received many threats because of your activism. What is your situation?

The current situation in Brazil is very adverse for human rights defenders because the situation is critical and dangerous. In my case, when I returned to Sao Paulo I received the news that a police authority who had been denounced with my help for crimes of torture had been elected as a state deputy. She currently holds the presidency of the security commission in the State Legislative Assembly, but I continue to work to denounce human rights violations. n October I was the protagonist of an important denunciation for the execution of a worker by military police, and I was responsible for the report we delivered to the UN Rapporteur for cases of torture.

From CEDECA, you denounce the violence suffered by children and adolescents in the peripheries.
We denounce all types of violence, but mainly institutional violence, which is expressed mainly in four areas: education, leisure, professional training and security. In the area of education, we denounce social and racial discrimination in schools, as well as the lack of places; in leisure and culture, the absence of public policies; in vocational training, the absence of opportunities for young people from the favelas to prepare themselves for the world of work; and with regard to security, we denounce police violence: summary executions, destruction of personal documents by the police, torture, etc. The situation is so serious that even conservative politicians already admit the genocide against the black and poor youth of the country.

What is the human rights training offered by the CDHS like?
We organize different training activities, workshops in schools, music festivals, elaborate manuals, etc. The objective is to let workers in the favelas and other poor communities know how the institutions of the State in which they live work, what historical process has led them to the situation of poverty, the rights that have been won by the working people, the paths that have been followed to make them effective and the existing instruments to denounce violations of rights. In 2015, we created the Sapopemba Citizenship School. It works with volunteer teachers who are prosecutors, judges, the police delegate, university faculty, leaders of social movements, journalists, and so on. Classes are held in community centers, churches and at the CDHS headquarters.

With the CDHS, you were able to hold public hearings for the public hearings for the community in Sapopemba. How how do they work?
We set up these hearings to break the immoral distance that was established between the public authorities and the community. This new methodology is applied in several steps. First of all, the population and its social leaders are articulated social leaders, and the problems to be addressed are selected. Next, partners are identified who can provide support (organizations support (organizations, journalists, authorities) and the request to appea
at the hearing, basing it on the law. The day of the hearing, but before it begins, the authorities are taken on a walk through the territory so that they can get to know the roads and streets, the people and their resources. The hearing is always held in the form of a circle, so that the authorities are that the authorities are located among the people. The people of the community speak at the beginning and at the end.

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