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Brazilian president, ministers compromise on new human rights bill

January 15th, 2010

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

The Brazilian president and cabinet ministers agreed Wednesday to try to solve the conflict in the country over a new national program bill for human rights.

The consensus was reached when President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and Human Rights Minister Paulo Vannuchi.

The bill aroused controversy in some sectors in the government over a clause that foresees the creation of a Truth Commission put forward by the government in December last year to investigate human rights crimes under Brazil’s military rule (1964-1985).

Brazilian military leaders opposed the bill, saying that the investigations should involve not only abuses by the military, but also crimes by the opposition groups.

Vannuchi, who campaigned for maintaining the bill’s original text, said that it had already been approved by 31 ministries in the government.

During the meeting, Lula agreed with Vannuchi to maintain the original bill, but signed a separate decree advocating the Truth Commission.

In the new decree, the wording “military repression” has been changed to “human rights violation.”

The Truth Commission intends to promote the historical reconstruction of cases of human rights violation. Among other tasks, it will ensure assistance to victims and locate and identify the remains of political casualties.

The package of measures also includes the abrogation of laws inherited from the military period “that are contrary to the guarantee of human rights or have given support to several serious violations.”

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