It has been 25 years since Brazil’s military regime ended. Yet, the crimes and violence enforced by the country’s authorities from 1964 to 1985 have failed to see the light of justice.
Brazil's Military Regime
As a condition to allow the restoration of democracy in Brazil in 1979, the military regime enacted legislation designed to provide blanket amnesty for ”political or political related crimes” committed since 1961. The law has been used since then, to provide state agents with immunity from crimes they committed during the country’s military era. Because of it, state officials were able to get away with torture, enforced disappearances and killings. These crimes are so grave, that they fall under the jurisdiction of international law.
A few months ago, in April of 2010, the Brazilian Supreme Court had an opportunity to repeal the amnesty law. Many of us hoped that the “new Brazil” would show maturity and respect for human rights. Instead, they decided to uphold the old interpretation, indicating that crimes committed by members of the military regime were political acts and therefore they were protected by the amnesty law.
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Inés Fernández Ortega ©Private
Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú were raped by soldiers in the Mexican Army
in 2002, and have been fighting for their right to hold their perpetrators accountable for their actions. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights just issued a ruling
that greatly aids both women in their fight for justice.
On October 1 the Court issued a ruling recognizing that gross human rights violations were committed against both women and their relatives. These violations include impunity for those responsible for the abuses as well the harassment of both the people who have supported the women in their search for justice. The decision categorically stated that both women were raped, and identified serious flaws in the treatment of Inés and Valentina in the investigation of their abuses.
Valentina Rosendo Cantú ©Amnesty International
The Court also criticized the State’s attitude towards both women and demanded that certain measures be taken to re-open the criminal investigation, investigate the officials who undermined the investigations, strengthen procedures for investigating rape cases, improve medical care provided to the direct victims and provide redress for both the women, their relatives and community. The Court also emphasized Mexico’s obligation to stop applying military justice when investigating and prosecuting members of the army for human rights violations
Amnesty International urges the Mexican federal and state authorities to immediately implement all necessary measures to comply with the new judgments made against Mexico by the Inter-American Court with regard to violence against women. It is time to bring justice for Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú!
Claire Lesikar, Campaign for Individuals at Risk, contributed to this post.