UN Says Violence and Impunity Culture Still Persists in Brazil

Caveirão in Rio's favela, BrazilOn May 25 the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the
United Nations released a report which showed there is a "culture of
violence and impunity," which is deeply prevalent in Brazil.

The report is the result of the 42nd Session of the Committee, finished in the beginning of May, in Geneva. With the presence of Brazil's minister of Human Rights, Paulo Vannuchi, and members of various branches of the Federal Government, the session evaluated the fulfillment of the International Pact regarding Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PIDESC) by Brazil.

The country signed and adopted the pact in 1992. The committee also received data from human rights organizations for the compilation of data for the report.

The twelve page report mentions the violations committed against the defenders of human rights by gunmen and private militias; many times they are sent by government agencies. The Committee pointed out the failures of the Brazilian authorities to protect human rights defenders and their oversight of violating agencies.

"The report reflects the claims of civil society and the recommendations that we and other entities have already presented in our reports to the U.N. Our objective, now, is to continue monitoring the actions of the government. We have to accompany and observe the degree to which the country will carry out the recommendations," said Tâmara Melo, a lawyer for Global Justice (an NGO).

Melo, who was present at this session of the Committee, believes that the violation of economic, social and cultural rights is directly related to the increase in violence.

The document recommends that Brazil quickly finish demarcating indigenous lands as a way to accelerate the process of agrarian reform in the country. Although it recognizes a better level of living for the poor in general, the document still points out the inequalities between whites and blacks in terms of life expectancy, poverty, literacy and access to employment.

The committee analyzed, as well, the gender discrimination that persists in the country; the high rates of maternal deaths; and the lack of adequate medical care which effects marginalized communities disproportionately.

The report also recommends actions to combat slave labor, child labor, sexual abuse of children and adolescents, the guarantees of social security rights for domestic and informal workers, adoption of methods for the expansion and effectiveness of the Bolsa Famí­lia (Family Allowance) program, protections for unions which are being persecuted, harassed and threatened with death.

The report emphasizes the absence, in Brazil, of a human right council that follows the Paris Principles (rules from the United Nations about the status of national institutions of human rights).

The Council for the Defense of Human Rights (CDDPH) is linked to the Federal Government and does not have its own budget or policies as recommended by the Paris Principles. Brazil must submit information for the committee in 2014, when it will release a new report.

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