Lula’s Administration Bends to Pressure and Makes Changes in Human Rights Plan

Paulo Vannuchi Brazilian minister Paulo Vannuchi, the head of the Human Rights Secretariat, has confirmed that changes will be made to the Third National Human Rights Plan (PNDH-3). which caused a storm of controversy when it was released in December.

Criticism rained down on it from the Catholic Church, the farm sector, the media and the military.

Vannuchi reports that changes will be made in a new document that will be released in May. There will be changes in the chapters dealing with abortion, religious symbols in public areas and land conflict mediation.

The minister also revealed that discussions were underway with media representatives (the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television (Abert), the National Association of Magazine Editors (Aner) and the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ)) to iron out any problems with the language regarding freedom of the press.

In a declaration he made at a public hearing in the Senate, Vannuchi said that next week a draft bill will be completed for the creation of a Truth Commission that will investigate the period between 1964 and 1985 when Brazil was run by generals.

But he added that there was no intention of doing so for revenge (“espírito de revanchismo”) and affirmed that the Amnesty Law of 1979 would not be changed.

The Supreme Court will begin examining a lawsuit filed by the National Bar Association (OAB) that questions articles in that law dealing with crimes practiced because of, or motivated by, political reasons during the military dictatorship (1964-85).
According to the OAB, the wording in the law extends amnesty to “absolutely undefined crimes,” including torture, which should not be subject to statutes of limitation.

The 1979 law, says the OAB, also protects people who were members of the government (“agentes públicos”) and committed common crimes such as homicide, abuse of authority, unusual punishment, forced disappearance and rape against people whose only crime was that they opposed the military regime.

Meanwhile, the heads of the government’s prosecution office (procuradoria-geral da República) and the head of the Government Attorney Executive Office (Advocacia Geral da União) have both come out against the OAB lawsuit saying it is a rupture of a commitment the country made in 1979 and point out that there are statutes of limitation for most of the crimes

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