Why Brazil did not punish the crimes of the dictatorship

Why Brazil did not punish the crimes of the dictatorship
Why Brazil did not punish the crimes of the dictatorship
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He explains that many names of torturers have been known since the late 1970s, and that the first major public report on this topic was the book Brazil, Never Again, by the Justice and Peace Commission, published in 1985. Still, efforts identification and punishment of agents of repression was restricted for a long time among civil society.

“In addition to investigating on their own and gathering documentation and testimony about these violations, these groups of affected people also carried out a long process of demanding before the Brazilian State so that there would be answers to these serious violations”, highlights Carla Osmo, professor of law at Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).

Civil pressure movements began to have some effect in the 90s, with the emergence of Special Commissions in the National Congress to debate deaths that occurred during the dictatorship, within the scope of law 9,140/1995, called the Law of Political Disappearances in Brazil. “This legislation not only recognizes the State’s responsibility for deaths and disappearances, but also encourages the conduct of searches and analyzes necessary to identify missing people”, says Osmo.

The Unifesp professor argues that the production of evidence within the commissions was decisive in basing the only judicial decision that recognizes an agent of the dictatorship as the author of serious human rights violations, in a case filed by the Almeida Telles family against Colonel Carlos Brilhante Ustra, in a 2008 decision. In the 1970s, Amelinha Telles was tortured by Ustra on the premises of the DOI-Codi in São Paulo.

Another lawsuit against Ustra was filed by the Merlino family in 2010, after the torture and death of journalist Luiz Eduardo Merlino, also in the 1970s, in the same DOI-Codi. Ustra was ordered to pay compensation in the first instance, but the decision was reversed by the Court of Justice and, at the end of last year, followed by the Superior Court of Justice. The Merlino family filed appeals.

Osmo argues that the lack of punishment for military personnel investigated for crimes during the dictatorship has already been the target of sanctions for the Brazilian State at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in cases involving Gomes Lund and members of the Araguaia Guerrilla and in the death of journalist Vladmir Herzog. “There are often accusations from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but criminal proceedings against agents do not progress through the Judiciary, even contradicting international human rights conventions.”


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Brazil punish crimes dictatorship

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