Brazil forming Truth Commission on human rights
The Americas Post - Dilma Rousseff wants the whole world to see Brazil's dirty laundry.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff on Friday approved the formation of a Truth Commission to investigate human rights abuses committed during and prior to that nation’s military dictatorship, which ran from 1964 to 1985.
The creation of the seven member commission is the strongest step yet taken by the Brazilian government to resolve the many incidents of violence and torture during their dictatorship, in spite of not having authority to prosecute those responsible.
That catch is frustrating for human rights activists, who want to see Brazilian soldiers on trial like their counterparts in Chile and Argentina.
“Today we honor the generations of Brazilians who died, not by a process of vengeance, but by a process of reconstructing the truth and memory”, said Rousseff. The former left wing activist, who was tortured by the military herself, spoke at a ceremony in the presidential palace.
“The truth about our past is fundamental to ensure that these deeds staining our history can never be repeated”, she added.
With a two-year mandate, the commission will be able subpoena witnesses to investigate abuses committed by the government as well as by the opposition. That process is limited, however, by the 1979 amnesty law, approved by the dictatorship, that protects alleged torturers from trial.
Unlike its neighbors in the region, until now Brazil has avoided a formal discussion of crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated during its military dictatorship, and has never jailed a member of the military for those.
“This development shows Brazil’s commitment to deal with human rights in their country, just like the rest of the world”, said UN Human Rights commissioner Navi Pilley in a statement for the press.
Around 500 Brazilians were killed or disappeared during their military dictatorship, while many others were tortured. Most victims were left-wing activists.
Rousseff also signed a Freedom of Information law guaranteeing the public free access to government documents. That law allows sensitive information to be kept secret for 25 years, renewable to 50 years, but prohibits the concealment of any document related to human rights.