On Wednesday, December 10, the Brazilian Truth Commission handed in its final report to President Dilma Rousseff on the human rights violations committed under the military dictatorship, from 1964 through 1985. Three hundred and seventy-seven people were highlighted as either directly or indirectly responsible for practicing torture and assassinations during the dictatorship. In late October, teleSUR spoke with Paulo Abrao, the Brazilian National Secretary of Justice and the President of the Brazilian Amnesty Commission, about the Truth Commission report and what its release means for justice for the human rights violations committed during the dictatorship.
PA: We have a lot of expectations around this document, and the content of this report. Because the strength of the content of this report will reflect in the strength of the agenda going forward. Right now, civil society is organizing to follow up, and to say that beginning with this Truth Commission Report it is important to take the steps that have not been able to have been taken so far, particularly in terms of the rights to judicial protection for the victims. Additionally, in Brazil, we have a very sensitive issue, because we have a situation where the Brazilian Attorney General and some of the family members have tried to begin judicial action in order for the jurisprudence of our judicial system to internalize la idea that crimes against humanity are impossible for amnesty.
But the Brazilian judicial branch has responded with a fairly conservative answer. It has rejected this judicial premise and has not aligned our country and our justice system with the international human rights treaties. So this is a built-in tension. But the families and the victims are very hopeful that the release of this final report from the Truth Commission will create a new environment of knowledge, information and rejection against the serious human rights violations. And that this can create enough social strength to change these more dogmatic positions of the Brazilian judicial branch.
On the other hand, we are building politics of memory, which are more and more capable of understanding the types of repression that were used against the victims of the dictatorship. There are also now several Brazilian states and municipalities that are creating spaces for memory and for the creation of understanding and knowledge. The truth is that before we lived in a country that was dominated by an ethic of the forgotten and today we have another environment, where the country is valuing our memory and the past.
A short while ago, we head from all of the principle Brazilian newspapers, which published fairly strong and insistent editorials from the perspective that we should not look to the past and that we should only and exclusively look toward the future. They said that eventually, any excerise into the past would imply a rupture with our democracy, and would put at risk the current public institutions and freedoms. The simple affirmation of these ideas is in itself a representation of the frailty of our democracy. And now we have a new environment.