Nº 8/00


On June 16, 2000, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) completed its 107th special session, held at the request of the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil.  The session took place in Brasilia and São Paulo from June 12 to 16, as indicated in the press release issued at the start of the session, which ended today.  Participants at the session included the Chair, Dr. Hélio Bicudo; the First Vice Chair, Dean Claudio Grossman; Second Vice Chair, Dr. Juan E. Méndez; and Commissioners Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, Prof. Robert K. Goldman, Dr. Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo.  The Commission was assisted by its Executive Secretary, Amb. Jorge E. Taiana; its Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. David J. Padilla; the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Dr. Santiago Canton; Attorneys Osvaldo Kreimer, Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, and Mario López Garelli; Ms. Ana Cecilia Adriazola; and Ms. Gloria Hansen. 

During this working week, the Commission met with Brazilian authorities and organizations; attended seminars on the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights; and held meetings to examine individual cases, general issues and other matters relating to the amendment of its Regulations.  All these activities were held in fulfillment of the Commission’s mandate as the principal organ of the Organization of American States for the defense and promotion of human rights in the Americas. 

The Commission met with the highest authorities from the three branches of the Brazilian State.  Particularly noteworthy, with respect to the Executive, were the special audiences granted by: the President of the Republic, Dr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso; the Minister of External Relations, Dr. Luiz Felipe Lampréia; the Minister of Justice, Dr. José Gregori, and other authorities.  The Commission was granted interviews with the following members of the Judiciary: the President of the Federal Supreme Court, Dr. Carlos Velloso, other judicial officials, and officials at the Attorney General’s Office. 

At the National Congress, the IACHR was received by the President of the Senate, Dr. Antonio Carlos Magalhães, and by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Dr. Michel Temer, and also met with other deputies and senators.  In addition, it held meetings with state officials from São Paulo, Río de Janeiro, and Pará. 

The Commission is pleased to announce that, during this period, a cooperation agreement was signed with the High Court of Justice. Other judicial, federal, and state authorities may accede to this agreement, as have the Court of Justice, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the State of Pará, and the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro. 

The IACHR was also able to examine human rights issues and their current situation in the Hemisphere and in Brazil, through two public seminars attended by governmental authorities, specialists, and leaders of Brazilian human rights organizations. The Commission held special meetings with nongovernmental organizations: one in Brasilia, promoted by the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, and the other in São Paulo, organized by the Center for Studies on Violence. During these meetings, the Commission was able to share information, concerns, theories, and various perspectives on the main problems and on progress being made in the area of human rights throughout the Hemisphere and in Brazil. 

The Commission had the honor to attend the awarding of the Great Cross of the Order of Rio Branco to its Chair, Dr. Hélio Bicudo, in recognition of his long and meritorious fight for democracy and human rights.  This tribute was at the behest of the President of the Republic of Brazil. 

During its session in São Paulo, the Commission was privileged to meet with Governor Mario Covas; the Secretary of Justice and Defense of the Citizenry, Dr. Belisário dos Santos Júnior; the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, Dr. Marco Vinícius Petrelluzzi; the Secretary of Prison Administration, Dr. Nagashi Furukawa; the Secretary of Social Welfare and Development, Dr. Edson Ortega, as well as authorities from the Office of the Archbishop of São Paulo: Monsignor Don Claudio Humes and Cardinal Don Paulo Evaristo Arns. 

At the invitation of the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro, a special delegation of the IACHR attended Governor Anthony Garotinho’s signing, in that city, of the law adopted this week by the State Legislative Assembly, granting a life pension to the individuals and their relatives who were victims of acts perpetrated in 1993 and which the law describes as “shocking,” namely the Vigario Geral and Candelaria massacres.  The Candelaria massacre, in which 28 street children were murdered by military policemen, led to individual cases now being processed before the Commission. This law also grants a pension for Mr. Wagner dos Santos, a surviving victim of the latter illegal action, who also suffered attempts on his life for testifying regarding the parties responsible for those acts. 

The Commission would like to thank the federal and state authorities, the human rights defenders, the academic specialists in this area, and, in particular, the families of victims of human rights violations with whom it had the opportunity to dialogue.  The success of this visit was due to the efforts made by those individuals and institutions, the special welcome they gave to the Commission, and the opportunity they afforded to hear their opinions, perspectives, and feelings on the progress, hopes, and threats to the full enjoyment and observance of democracy and human rights in the region. 


São Paulo, June 16, 2000