Posted by Robyn Smith
On Thursday, June 20th, the Brazilian government told the Commission of Human Rights, a division of the Organization of American States (OAS), that the high profile murder case of journalist Vladimir Herzog could not be re-opened as a criminal case due to the Amnesty Law. This declaration came despite a 2010 ruling by the OAS’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemning Brazil for its refusal to investigate the disappearances of approximately seventy guerrillas in the Araguaia region. The Center for Justice and Rights International (Centro pela Justiça e o Direito Internacional), the Inter-american Foundation of the Defense of Human Rights, the Torture Never Again Group (Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais), and the Vladimir Herzog Institute (Instituto Vladimir Herzog (the ) brought the Herzog case to the OAS’s attention. Brazil responded by citing not only the Amnesty Law but also the fact that the Herzog Institute had already received monetary compensation for the journalist’s death. Herzog’s family is outraged by Brazil’s response and is willing to return the money to have the case reopened. The case has been reopened twice, and both times Brazil has used the Amnesty Law to have it closed. Herzog’s death certificate still states that his cause of death was a suicide despite numerous testimonies and the now common knowledge that he died as a result of extreme torture by the hands of the dictatorship.
In further reaction to Dilma’s recently discovered account of torture in the state of Minas Gerais, the Truth Commission has requested that 700 cases of imprisonment and torture be handed over. This is in compliance with existing legislation that allows for the Truth Commission to request for public documents. President Dilma Rousseff has declined to comment on her time in the torture chamber, stating that the Truth Commission already has her official testimony on the matter. Dilma has said that she believes it would be difficult for her or her comrades to identify their torturers. She is quoted to have said in regards to the purpose of the Truth Commission as coming from “neither hatred nor revenge, but also not forgiveness”. For more on Dilma’s reaction to recent Truth Commission developments and pictures of Dilma during the dictatorship, follow this link.