You are here
Brazilian Truth Commission Begins Investigating Human Rights Abuses
May 17, 2012
Freedom House applauds Brazil’s launch of a national truth commission, which will investigate serious human rights violations committed during the period 1964 through 1988. Yesterday, President Dilma Rousseff swore-in the seven member panel, who will have two years to investigate cases of torture, forced disappearances, murders and other violations and to issue a report.
The Commission will have the power to call government officials and members of the military as witnesses under oath and access all government documents to conduct its investigation. Due to the 1979 Amnesty Law that still remains in place, however, the Commission will not have the authority to prosecute violations, but it will name those that committed them.
In April of 2010, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld the 1979 Amnesty Law after blocking a legal reinterpretation that would have excluded torture from the crimes it covers. Later in the year, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that Brazil’s Amnesty Law cannot provide immunity on actions considered crimes against humanity.
“The work of the Commission will be a major step to shed light on Brazil’s recent past” said Lisa Davis, senior advisor for International Legal Affairs. "Exposing those that committed crimes is a much needed form of restoration but Brazil still lags behind other Latin American countries in prosecuting military regime-era abuses.”
Before the creation of this Commission, Brazil had taken some steps to deal with past human rights violations, including an unofficial commission of inquiry that investigated crimes in 1985. More recently, there have been some prosecutions of forced disappearances.
Brazil is ranked Free in the Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2012.