By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has announced the names of those who will form the so-called “Comissão da Verdade” (Truth Commission) – a panel of former justice ministers, human rights secretaries, attorneys and social scientists set up to investigate the atrocities of the post-war and military regime eras of Brazil’s history.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2011, Brazil News
President Rousseff sanctioned the Commission in September 2011, after it was approved by the Chamber of Deputies, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.

The Commission, to start on May 16th, will be attended by four former presidents: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Fernando Collor, and José Sarney – whose taking office in 1985 effectively ended Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship.

Originally the Truth Commission was heralded as a chance to investigate the abuses and human rights violations that were committed during the military regime’s time in power – but the period has been extended back to 1946 to include accusations from the post-Second World War era, as well.

The panel will have access to government files from the period and can invite witnesses and victims to testify – although they are not obliged to attend.

One of the Commission members, an attorney, represented President Rousseff legally during the authoritarian military regime, which began in 1964 after a coup d’état led by the Armed Forces against democratically-elected leader João Goulart.

Once convened, the Commission will run for two years, after which it will produce a final report detailing the group’s findings.

In 1979, Brazil passed a law granting amnesty for crimes committed by those either in government or in the Armed Forces between September 2, 1961 and August 15, 1979.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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  1. The panel has 6 lawyers and 1 psychoanalyst. Those chosen have respectable credentials, but it does seem a bit top-heavy with lawyers. One might have hoped for a historian or anthropologist or sociologist or some social scientist.


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