Fellow Since 1990
IDEC - Instituto de Defesa da Cidadania
This profile was prepared when Raul Belens Jungmann Pinto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Raul believes democratizing Brazil's creaky justice and security system is the only chance to save it. A discredited police force and backlogged courts have caused citizens to mistrust the system. Involving the people in reforming the system offers a bracing challenge but also an opportunity for grass-roots groups, larger non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local governments to push together for citizen control over organs supposedly created to ensure public safety. As citizens become aware of who's responsible for enforcing which laws, and aware of their own rights under the law, they can build public agencies accountable for protecting them. Citizens, according to Raul, must also take a more active part in crime prevention. Replacing centralized state police with responsive local police forces might be one outcome of greater public awareness of security issues. As news media recently freed from censorship expose decay, violence, and corruption within the system, citizens have a chance to recognize the system's disintegration and demand a part in shaping one that serves the people rather than intimidating and oppressing them. In Brazil, and through much of Latin America, this is an important historical moment.