May 22, 2013
AP/ABC News, 05/21/2013
A Truth Commission investigating human rights abuses under Brazil’s military dictatorship says that those it finds guilty of torture could be brought to trial.
A 1979 amnesty law protects civilians and military personnel from liability for politically motivated crimes committed during the 1964-1985 military regime. But commission coordinator Rosa Cardoso says they could be tried by the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
She notes that “there are no statutes of limitations for crimes committed against humanity.” And adds, “Amnesties are not valid under international law.”
January 24, 2013
AP/The Washington Post, 01/23/2013
Brazil’s Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights abuses committed during the nation’s military dictatorship, said Wednesday it’s looking into the death of former President Juscelino Kubitschek, who died in a 1976 car accident.
Over the years, some prominent Brazilian officials have said they suspect that the death of Kubitschek, who oversaw the creation of his nation’s new capital city, Brasilia, in the early 1960s, was a set-up ordered by the military regime.
A Truth Commission official said by telephone the investigation into Kubitschek’s death began late last year after the bar association of Minas Gerais state delivered a report saying his death was ordered by Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime.
September 19, 2012
Stan Lehman – The Miami Herald, 09/18/2012
Brazil’s Truth Commission will investigate only human rights abuses committed by the country’s former dictatorship, not any crimes committed by opponents of the 1964-1985 regime.
The commission said Tuesday on its website that it has been told to only look at the torture, murder and forced disappearances carried out by government agents of people opposed to the dictatorship.
It said it did not have the authority to investigate the acts of individuals that were not public agents.
September 18, 2012
AP/Washington Post, 09/18/2012
Brazil’s Truth Commission says it will only investigate human rights abuses under the country’s former dictatorship, not the crimes allegedly committed by opponents of the 1964-1985 regime.
The commission says Tuesday on its website that it has been told to investigate only the torture, murder and forced disappearances carried out by government agents of people opposed to the dictatorship.
Retired admiral Ricardo Antonio da Veiga Cabral says the commission’s decision will result in an “unfinished, one-side investigation in which only half the truth will be known.”
August 6, 2012
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 08/04/2012
Her nom de guerre was Estela. Part of a shadowy urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970, she spent three years behind bars, where interrogators repeatedly tortured her with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and forced her into the pau de arara, or parrot’s perch, in which victims are suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles.
That former guerrilla is now Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. As a truth commission begins examining the military’s crackdown on the population during a dictatorship that lasted two decades, Brazilians are riveted by chilling details emerging about the painful pasts of both their country and their president.
The schisms of that era, which stretched from 1964 to 1985, live on here. Retired military officials, including Maurício Lopes Lima, 76, a former lieutenant colonel accused of torturing Ms. Rousseff, have questioned the evidence linking the military to abuses. Rights groups, meanwhile, are hounding Mr. Lopes Lima and others accused of torture, encircling their residences in cities across Brazil. “A torturer of the dictatorship lives here,” they recently wrote in red paint on the entrance to Mr. Lopes Lima’s apartment building in the seaside resort city of Guarujá, part of a street-theater protest.
May 17, 2012
AP/Fox News, 05/16/2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday swore in the seven members of a truth commission created to investigate human rights abuses committed during the nation’s long military dictatorship.
Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who spent three years in prison during the dictatorship and was brutally tortured, was moved to tears as she ushered in the long-delayed commission, whose work begins years after neighboring Latin American nations fully investigated the actions of dictatorial regimes.
“We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history,” Rousseff said at the ceremony in Brasilia. “The need to know the full truth is what moves us. Brazil deserves the truth, future generations deserve the truth and most importantly those who lost their friends and their families deserve to know the truth.”
May 16, 2012
Paulo Cabral – BBC Brasil, 05/16/2012
Brazil’s Truth Commission, created to investigate human rights abuses committed during the country’s military dictatorship, is set to meet for the first time on Wednesday amid criticism from both army officers and victims’ relatives.
Military rule spanned 21 years, from 1964 to 1985. More than 400 people were either killed or disappeared, while thousands were tortured.
As the commission gathers for the first time, there is discomfort among some in Brazil’s military over what they perceive as an attempt at revenge by an ideologically-biased government.
December 19, 2011
Washington Office on Latin America, 12/19/2011
Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute spoke at the event on December 14, 2011.
Click here to watch the video of his presentation
One year ago, on December 14, 2010, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights issued its landmark ruling in the case “Gomes Lund and Others (Guerrilha do Araguaia) v. Brazil.” Among its key findings, the court ruled that by denying families of the victims access to military and other State archives, Brazil had violated their fundamental right to information as defined by the Inter-American Human Rights Convention. The court also issued extraordinary guidelines to Brazil regarding the obligations of the State to search for, locate, and make public government records related to gross human rights abuses.
The Araguaia ruling has broad implications for the development of the right to truth and human rights justice throughout the Americas. To date, Latin American governments have generally refused to open secret archives that may contain evidence of human rights violations. But political and legal pressure in favor of the right to truth and the right to information is mounting. One month ago, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff responded to those pressures by signing into law the creation of a truth commission and a new freedom of information law that calls for release of human rights related documentation.
Join us as a panel of experts discusses these pivotal and important developments for the advance of human rights and transparency in the Americas. The panel will be moderated by WOLA Program Director Geoff Thale.
December 14, 2011
Golbery do Couto e Silva is considered the father of the national security doctrine
The Order of Brazilian Lawyers, OAB, considers the building of a monument to the memory of General Golbery do Couto e Silva, considered the most important mind behind the military dictatorship (1964/1985) as an “unnecessary provocation” which involves “some military officers” in disagreement with the Truth Commission.
“Certainly we can see the intention of some people who have no interest in that the Commission unveils all that happened, and among those people obviously we can expect to see some retired military officers, but I don’t know if active officers”, said Roque Reckziegel head of the Rio Grande do Sul OAB chapter.
The construction of the monument to the memory of Golbery do Couto e Silva, was sponsored and supported by Fabio Branco, mayor of the city of Rio Grande, where the general was born in 1911. He died in 1987 of lung cancer.
August 1, 2011
Taylor Barnes – Global Post, 07/29/2011
When President Dilma Rousseff, a former urban guerrilla tortured for 22 straight days with electric shocks under Brazil’s military dictatorship, took office in January she was ambivalent about her past as a young activist: “I don’t have any regrets, nor any resentment or rancor,” she said.
Rousseff has since done little for those looking for justice for crimes under the dictatorship. For one, her new government has waffled on whether it supports allowing archival documents to be declassified as confidential in a proposed access-to-information law.
Unlike many of its Latin American neighbors, Brazil has yet to hold a fact-finding “Truth Commission” to clarify responsibility for crimes committed during the military rule of 1964-1985. It also has not reversed an amnesty law that shields torturers from prosecution. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared the amnesty illegal in December.