UN Scolds Brazil for Never Punishing Torture Committed During Dictatorship

Student beaten by police during military dictatorship in Brazil Brazil is not lacking law to guarantee the human rights of all of its citizens. The country has an "impressive" set of laws and policies to promote human rights and improve socioeconomic well-being, indigenous groups and Afro-Brazilians face serious discrimination, injustice and violence, warned the United Nations human rights chief.

Wrapping up her week-long visit to Brazil, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that millions of Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people are "mired in poverty" and lack access to basic services and employment opportunities.

She also recalled that torture is an "international crime against humanity" and Brazil is the only South American country that has not addressed the issue of violations during the military regimes.

"Until that changes, it will hamper Brazil's progress on many other fronts," she told a news conference before departing the country, urging officials to focus on fully implementing existing laws, plans and policies to address discrimination.

She lauded the country's Constitution and legal framework, saying they "form an impressive foundation of human rights protection," and noted a number of important measures taken by the Government, including this week's passing by the Congress of a constitutional amendment designed to provide free universal education to children aged 4 to 17.

"Many of Brazil's biggest problems are rooted in poverty and discrimination, and a truly universal secondary education system is essential if there is to be major improvement in these areas," she said.

At the same time, she noted a number of issues of concern, including the situation of the country's indigenous people. The fact that she had not seen a single indigenous person among all the many officials she had met during the visit was "very indicative of their continued marginalization," she stated.

Ms. Pillay stated that, for the most part, Brazil's indigenous people "are not benefiting from the country's impressive economic progress, and are being held back by discrimination and indifference, chased out of their lands and into forced labor."

In addition, there are very few Afro-Brazilians in positions of authority, and this was particularly striking in the country's northern Bahia state, "where three-quarters of the population are Afro-Brazilian, but hardly any of the top administrators."

Turning to the issue of violence, the High Commissioner acknowledged that Brazil's police had a tough task in trying to maintain law and order. She said the government needs to establish a clear policy to combat impunity, adding that all allegations of rights violations need to be promptly and thoroughly investigated by independent authorities. Perpetrators must be prosecuted, irrespective of whether they are gangsters or policemen, she added.

"The astonishingly high rate of homicides in Brazil's overcrowded prisons, and allegations of widespread torture and inhumane conditions are alarming and unacceptable," she said. "Equally disturbing is the fact that the vast majority of those incarcerated are Afro-Brazilians.

She also pointed to the "very high levels of violence directed at Brazilian women," and said she hoped more could be done "to help women all across the country make use of the laws and projects designed to protect them."

Ms. Pillay, who met with President Lula and several ministers and officials, pointed out that Brazil is "the only country in South America not to have taken action to confront abuses committed during the period of military rule." There are ways of dealing with this "which avoid reopening the wounds of the past and help to heal them instead," she said.

"Torture, however, is an exception," she said. "International law is unequivocal: torture is a crime against humanity and cannot be left unpunished. The fact that the torture that took place in the military era has still not been dealt with by Brazil means that the proper, clear disincentives to commit torture now and in the future are not in place."

While in Brazil, the High Commissioner also attended the annual national conference on human rights defenders and met with a wide range of civil society representatives in three cities: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and, the capital, Brasí­lia.

She also visited an isolated quilombo (community of Afro-Brazilian descendants of slaves) in Bahia state, and one of Rio de Janeiro's poverty-stricken favelas (shantytowns).



  • Show Comments (4)

  • asp

    actualy , joao
    after going into the deep complexities of the intricate tentacles of my barrio and its dog dynamic and music suffocation and fear of the beautiful people , with great lucidity and clarification, these other matters just seem trivial to me….

    as well as some of these threads are moving though fast and its hard to keep up

    and, i think you are super imposing some of augustus’s veiws on mine and miss him in the discusions….i have various points of veiws about things that some are liberal and others conceravtive…you have mischaractorised some of my points of veiw on here,probably in your customary sarcasm…

    for sure , i would never speak for the brazilian people in the south, but i think you ought to host a lunch for battisti and the president of iran…ill send over a bucket of quivering korean churrasco to show how i feel about both of them…have a great lunch with them

  • asp

    ah, didnt see you address me on this, joao, so…..
    by the way i didnt take a position on zeleya, and i hate battisti i just am not going to get emotionaly drained from it no matter what happens…i wont be celibrating if he gets sent back, just congradulation the desician…

    about this article, well, where i agree about the indian and afro braziliand injustices, i say about the rest : i thought there was amnesty for the stuff in the cold war …if they are going to go after the military they have to go after the people that assasinated the military and kidnapped and bombed places and robbed banks….right? isnt that what is fair and why they had amnesty ?

    im actualy up front about the things on here i see that i know the truth about, like the farc and chavez connection and how it definitly affects brazil…not that i want brazil to hate chavez, just know the truth about him….

  • João da Silva

    I see you have been quite silent these days and probably you don’t want to get involved in the domestic affairs of your “Hosts”. I understand your reluctance to express your honest opinion. You were all in favor of our intervention in Honduras and now it appears that Zelaya, the “Caudilho” is unwilling to pay the rent for using our embassy nor vacate it. Even the priest from El Salvador has dumped him and left the premises.

    Then comes this article written by someone who doesn’t know the difference between the “Military Dictatorship” and “Military Government” and I am the only one to clarify this issue to her.

    Now, we have our STF judging that the Italian terrorist Battisti should be extradited to Italy, BUT…BUT…. the final decision should be taken by the President of the Republic. I am quite confident that he would not be extradited, because we would be accused of violating his “human rights” by Navi Pillay. Why piss her off or her boss Ban-ki-Moon.

    So my friend, the best thing for you to do is to arrange a nice place in your neighborhood for Battisti to live and let me organize a house warming party for this fine Italian gentleman. 😉 😀

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Wrapping up her week-long visit to Brazil, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that millions of Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people are “mired in poverty” and lack access to basic services and employment opportunities.[/quote]

    Navi Pillay is another “funcionÀƒ¡ria publica” (of the U.N) who came to do tourism in Brasil and paid some lip service to the plight of the “Afro-Brazilians” and “indigenous people” without really addressing the root cause for “lack of access to basic services” and “employment opportunities”

    [quote]She also recalled that torture is an “international crime against humanity” and Brazil is the only South American country that has not addressed the issue of violations during the military regimes.[/quote]

    It confirms my suspicion that the lady is absolutely clueless about the Brazilian history . Another Brasilian basher who probably worked for COHA. Unfortunately the entire U.N. is being dominated by countries that are famous for human rights violations, corruption practices and nepotism. Has anybody forgotten about the previous Secretary General of U.N. and the scandals his son was involved in?

    Hopefully, Ms.Pillay gets a standing ovation from her superiors for writing this anti-Brasilian report and her pay check is doubled. 😀

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