Damning report on military regime in Brazil

Brazil’s National Truth Commission has delivered a damning report on the killings, disappearances and acts of torture committed by government agents during the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

The 2,000-page report was delivered to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla who endured torture and a long imprisonment in the early 1970s.

“Under the military dictatorship, repression and the elimination of political opposition became the policy of the state, conceived and implemented based on decisions by the president of the republic and military ministers,” the report states.

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The commission “therefore totally rejects the explanation offered up until today that the serious violations of human rights constituted a few isolated acts or excesses resulting from the zeal of a few soldiers”.

Investigators spent nearly three years combing through archives, hospital and mortuary records and questioning victims, families and alleged perpetrators.

The document represents Brazil’s most sweeping attempt yet to come to terms with the human rights abuses committed under the country’s military regime.

However, the commission has no prosecutorial powers and a 1979 amnesty law passed by the military regime prevents those responsible from being tried and punished for their crimes.

The report calls for the repeal of the amnesty and says there should be prosecutions.

The work details the military’s “systematic practice” of arbitrary detentions and torture, as well as executions, forced disappearances and the hiding of bodies.

It documents 191 killings and 210 disappearances committed by military authorities, as well as 33 cases of people who were disappeared and whose remains were later discovered.

“These numbers certainly don’t correspond to the total of deaths and disappearances but only to cases it was possible to prove,” the report said.

It mentioned “obstacles encountered in the investigation - especially the lack of access to armed forces’ documentation, which is officially said to have been destroyed”.