April 11, 2012
“I cannot stop torture from occurring at every police station in Brazil”.
Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said yesterday, in an official visit to the United States, during a question and answer session at Harvard University, that she is incapable of preventing torture in Brazil – “I know what happens, I cannot stop torture from occurring at every police station in Brazil”.[i]
The organizations that endorse this petition condemning the declaration of the president hope that the office of the presidency will promptly clarify to what extent this declaration reflects the position of the Brazilian State on the matter.
The declaration of President Rousseff – herself a former political prisoner and torture victim – is unacceptable under any circumstances, but it takes on even greater significance now since it comes at a particularly sensitive moment. The country is currently facing a fierce debate on the establishment of a Truth Commission, which has the support of the president, to investigate crimes committed during the military dictatorship, including the crime of torture.
Meanwhile, Brazil has yet to put into practice a torture prevention mechanism, a commitment it made in the UN in 2008. The Brazilian government has also, for more than two months now, resisted publishing the report of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture that visited Brazil in September 2011. Finally, the country has failed repeatedly to adopt measures capable of curbing the practice of this crime in numerous provisional detention centers, prisons and young offenders facilities.
It is a very serious situation when a head of state declares they are incapable of preventing the crime of torture in police stations. It is even more serious that she chose a moment of great visibility to make such a declaration.
The undersigned organizations work on a daily basis to combat the practice of torture and fear that the president’s declaration will be interpreted by Brazilian society and the public authorities as condonation and recognition of the impotence, incapacity and capitulation on one of the most serious human rights violations currently taking place in Brazil.
We request an explicit declaration from the president that torture will not be tolerated and that every effort shall be taken to combat it.
Association of Christians for the Abolition of Torture - ACAT
Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association - ABIA
Dom Oscar Romero Center for Human Rights – CEDHOR
Teotônio Vilela Commission
Conectas Human Rights
Dignitatis - Grassroots Technical Assistance
Inclusion, Integrity and Independence - 3IN
Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis - IBASE
Defense of the Right to Defense Institute - IDDD
Development and Human Rights Institute - IDDH
Land, Employment and Citizenship Institute – ITTC
Sou da Paz Institute
Vladimir Herzog Institute
Socio-Economic Studies Institute – INESC