Brazil lower house approves Truth Commission

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s lower house of Congress has approved the creation of a Truth Commission charged with investigating human rights abuses, including those committed during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

The Chamber of Deputies late on Wednesday approved the government proposal to create a commission that will “examine and clarify” rights violations between 1946 and 1988, during which Brazil saw several periods of authoritarian rule.
The bill will now go to the Senate.

The measure represents a significant step forward in the effort to bring dictatorship-era abuses to light in Brazil, which has largely avoided formal discussion of the topic.

Unlike several of its neighbours, Brazil has never sentenced anyone for political crimes perpetrated during military rule.
“Mature democracies are rescuing their history, telling their story, because only by knowing the past, can we construct a better, more just, more humane future,” Amauri Teixeira, a deputy from the ruling Workers’ Party, said before the vote.

According to the bill, the commission may call witnesses and investigate abuses committed by both the military and by guerrillas. It will have no powers to try or condemn suspects.

About 500 Brazilians were killed or disappeared during the 1964-85 dictatorship, while many others, mostly leftist activists, were tortured. That includes President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla, who was administered electric shocks and beatings in the early 1970s.

Rousseff is expected to sign the bill if it passes.

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