Washington, D.C., April 8, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against Brazil on March 26, 2009, in Case No. 11.552, Julia Gomes Lund et al. (Guerrilha do Araguaia).

The case has to do with the arbitrary detention, torture, and forced disappearance of 70 people, including members of the Brazil Communist Party and campesinos from the region, as a result of operations carried out by the Brazilian Army between 1972 and 1975 to destroy the Araguaia Guerrilla Movement during the period of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985). The case is also related to the Amnesty Law (Law No. 6.683/79) enacted by Brazil’s military government. Based on that law, the State did not conduct a criminal investigation to prosecute and punish those responsible for the forced disappearance of 70 people and the extrajudicial execution of Maria Lucia Petit da Silva, whose remains where found and identified on May 14, 1996. The case also addresses the legal issue of the permanent sealing of official files related to certain matters, which was introduced on May 5, 2005, under Law 11.111. Taking this case to the Court provides a new opportunity to consolidate jurisprudence on amnesty laws as they relate to forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, and on States’ obligation to investigate, prosecute, and punish serious human rights violations.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.


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