Study shows that lack of data on black people makes it hard to increase diversity in judiciary

Despite various measures taken in recent years, including National Justice Council Resolution 203, there is still no evidence of an increase in black people’s presence in the judiciary.
16 May 2024
Study shows that lack of data on black people makes it hard to increase diversity in judiciary

On May 14, Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo Law School released the results of a study called “Delivering racial equity in the judiciary: An analysis of the implementation of National Justice Council Resolution 203 of 2015,” which examined the impact of measures taken to promote increased racial diversity in the Brazilian judiciary.

As the title indicates, the main document analyzed was National Justice Council Resolution 203 of 2015, which established a quota of 20% of vacancies for black people in civil service career recruitment contests. The study also looked at contests for labor, state and federal judges in order to understand how the resolution has been applied, in terms of the percentage of black people entering the judiciary.

One problem identified by researchers at the FGV Sao Paulo Law School’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Center for Racial Justice and Law Studies is the high proportion of judges who have no data or information on the ethnic-racial profile of employees in labor, state and federal courts.

According to Luciana de Oliveira Ramos, one of the project’s coordinators, this information leads to the conclusion that it is hard for the National Justice Council to formulate a policy for monitoring candidates who apply through the quota system.

“This means that while there has been some progress in terms of black people’s presence in the judiciary since the resolution was enacted, the National Justice Council does not have direct access to personnel management systems, so it cannot track race-ethnicity and gender markers, in terms of recruitment, continued employment and promotions within the different career paths to be found in the Brazilian courts. This information is not available on the courts’ websites and the National Justice Council always has to make requests for information to each court. When such information is made available, it is done so in a non-integrated way,” the report states.

Another point analyzed was the availability of information on quotas in recruitment contest notices, from 2015 onward. It was found that information on applications under the quota criteria is either nonexistent or not very transparent.

“Access to information is fundamental to public oversight of the functioning of the state and public management. This study set out to verify public announcements, transparency and access to information made available actively and voluntarily by the institutions in question,” the report says.

The researchers also found that most of the information that is made available by the courts is at least moderately hard to access. As a result, they had to resort to extra data to carry out their analysis, such as information made available by companies hired to carry out recruitment contests and even firms that run exam preparation courses.

Another conclusion is that there is still not a great deal of awareness in the judiciary itself about racial equity and inequalities that exist in legal careers. Through interviews, it was possible to detect a lack of understanding of the importance of making efforts to combat racial inequality within the judiciary and to institutionalize affirmative action policies, such as through racial literacy training for judges and court employees.

In short, the study’s main conclusions are as follows:

1. Almost 10 years after National Justice Council Resolution 203 of 2015 came into force, there is still a lack of systematized data on the racial profile of judges. Most courts do not have this data, or it is not easily accessible;

2. The lack of data hampers the drafting of policies in this area and, above all, monitoring and evaluation work;

3. In addition, the difficulties involved in accessing data on candidates who pass the different stages of recruitment contests make it very hard to monitor the progress of black people in each stage;

4. The absence of specific lists for black people in some contests reveals a process of “de-racialization” of black people;

5. Analysis of interviews with judges revealed that few of them have observed any impact of National Justice Council Resolution 203 of 2015, especially with regard to an increase in the number of black or mixed-race judges. Some judges oppose the existence of quotas for black and mixed-race people, arguing that selection processes for the judiciary ought to be purely meritocratic. As for initiatives to combat racism and promote racial equity, it was found that none of the courts to which the interviewees belonged had any literacy initiatives or educational programs dealing with the resolution or racial equity in the judiciary.

To see the full study, click here.

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