AI: Brazil: Historic efforts by federal prosecutors to challenge decades of impunity for military
The efforts of federal prosecutors to initiate criminal investigations into past human rights violations marks a crucial moment in Brazilís history, said Amnesty International after federal prosecutors in S„o Paulo charged, on 24 March 2012, retired Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra and police chief (delegado) Dirceu Garvina, with the kidnapping of union leader AluŪzio Palhano Pedreira Ferreira in 1971.
ďBy challenging decades of impunity it is hoped that Brazil can finally meet its responsibilities under international law as have other countries in the region,Ē said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
Forty-one years ago, in May 1971, AluŪzio Palhano Pedreira Ferreira was arbitrarily detained by security officers of the military regime, and has not been seen by his family since. He was allegedly taken to the DOI-Codi, the department responsible for intelligence and repression under the then military government, then under the command of Col. Ustra. According to witnesses reports of the time, Ferreira was tortured while being held by the security services.
Brazilís 1979 Amnesty Law, originally created to pardon political crimes of the time, has since been interpreted to include acts of torture and extra-judicial executions by members of the regime - thus protecting them from investigation and prosecution.
Prosecutors have charged Col. Ustra and Garvina with kidnapping as, given the absence of the victim, the crime is deemed to continue beyond 1979 and thus not covered by the amnesty. Though Brazilís Federal Supreme Court (STF) recently upheld amnesties for crimes under the military regime, on two separate occasions it has ruled that the Amnesty Law does not afford protection for the crimes of forced disappearance or kidnapping.