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Without defence, indigenous Brazilians left to languish in jail

Without defence, indigenous Brazilians left to languish in jail

DOURADOS, Brazil - The plight of jailed indigenous Brazilians looked unlikely to change under President Jair Bolsonaro, campaigners said, despite a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation backing findings that many were locked up on dubious charges and without a lawyer.

With the world's third largest prison population, Brazil's jails are overcrowded and violent but there are mounting concerns the situation is worse for indigenous inmates who can face unduly long sentences due to no linguistic and legal aid.

On a rarely permitted visit to a prison in Dourados in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to five indigenous prisoners, all of whom said they did not have a lawyer when taken to jail.

The prisoners also said vital medical supplies were withheld, they were threatened with violence by police, and some were forced to confess to crimes they had not committed.

Public defender Neyla Ferreira Mendes said she had examined the proceedings of about 131 jailed indigenous in the 2,400-strong Dourados - and every one lacked an interpreter and an anthropological report, both of which are required by law.

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