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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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