Thousands of people demonstrate in various US cities on Saturday 13 December 2014 to protest against grand jury decisions after the deaths of black young men Michael Brown in Jefferson and Eric Garner in New York. Michael Brown was shot dead last July by a police officer, while unarmed, and Eric Garner died at the same date after being placed in a banned chokehold by a police officer.
Amongst the signs and posters displayed during the different marches in Washington and New York, one could read the final words of Eric Garner before he died "I can't breathe" or "Black lives matter", which is the name of the movement that was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his murder.
After a two-year investigation about thousands cases of torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and other violation of human rights that occurred under the authoritarian regime, between 1964 and 1985, the National Truth Commission ("Comissão Nacional da Verdade") released its much awaited report on 10 December 2014 (only available in Portuguese).
According to Amnesty International, the report "makes important recommendations about the demilitarization of Brazil’s military police, the independence of legal expertise and medical institutes relied on for public security, the strengthening of public defenders and improvements in the prison system to guarantee prisoners’ rights. The report also recommends the further development of Brazilian legislation to codify crimes against humanity and enforced disappearance, important milestones in international law to protect human rights."
The 2,000-page report documents 191 killings and 210 disappearances committed by military authorities, as well as 33 cases of people who were “disappeared” and whose remains were discovered later.
This report will hopefully put an end to the protection granted by the 1979 Amnesty Law to members of the former military government. Elisabeth Silveria e Silva, who leads the Torture Never Again human rights group, stated after the release of the report that"the amnesty law must be rewritten or abrogated altogether" for the criminals to be held accountable.
Posted by Flavie Fuentes
The 525-page document has been released after a four-year investigation on the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes after 9/11. This report, which is actually over 6700 long, was very much eagerly awaited by the civil society and human rights NGOs (see our post dated 14 November 2014 on the 53rd session of the UN Committee against torture).
The Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman Dianne Feinstein wrote in the foreword to the report: "(...) it is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman and degrading. I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible" (page 4).
The findings of the report are, inter alia:
- The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from the detainees;
- The interrogations/conditions of confinement of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others;
- The CIA impeded both Congress and White House oversight of its activities;
- Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the programme;
- The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Programme more than 6 months after being granted detention authorities;
- The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations.
The report provides dreadful details about the interrogation methods, which amount to torture. For example, we learn that rectal rehydration, rectal feeding, deprivation of sleep and threats to the families of detainees were amongst the methods used in secret CIA prisons where detainees were held incommunicado.
It is now time for accountability as stressed by Ben Emmerson, the United Nations rapporteur for counter-terrorism.