Brazil to Indemnify Families of ”Politically Missing”

    During the military dictatorship which ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, a number of people who opposed the regime disappeared. They are known as the “politically missing” and a commission has been set up to deal with paying their families indemnity. Known as the Special Comission for the Politically Missing and Dead, it is presently examining 13 cases.

    Many of these cases are based on a new law which went into
    effect in June of this year which recognizes state culpability in forced
    suicides, suicides caused by psychological trauma resulting from torture and
    deaths that occurred during public demonstrations against the government between
    September 1961 and October 1988.

    Prior to this law the government paid
    indemnity only in cases of deaths which occurred while in state custody.


    On August 14, 2003, the federal government reinstalled the
    Commission on Dead and Missing Political Activitists, linked to the Special
    Secretariat for Human Rights, for the purpose of indemnifying the relatives of
    victims of the military regime.


    Created in 1995, the commission has already conceded
    indemnities to 280 family members, but many were excluded as a result of flaws
    in criteria and information. In general, the amount of the indemnity varies
    between 100,000 reais (US$ 33,000) and 150,000 reais (US$50,000).


    During the period between 1964 and 1985, the military dictatorship that
    took power in Brazil through a coup caused the death or disappearance of
    approximately 480 people, according to investigations conducted by human rights
    organizations. 

    Before the recent change Brazilian law only
    benefitted relatives of political activitists who were killed in security
    facilities, while they were imprisoned. 102 cases rejected by the
    commission, some of them because of this type of restriction, will be
    reevaluated.

    Another new feature is the creation of a DNA bank, which
    will store genetic information on the victims’ relatives. This information will
    be cross-checked against the skeletal remains that have been discovered.


    The resuscitation of the Commission coincided with a judicial decision
    that revived the discussion over victims of the military regime. On July 22 of
    last year, Federal Judge Solange Salgado, from Brasí­lia, ordered the breaking of
    official secrecy on all military operations in the campaign against the Araguaia
    guerrilla movement.

    The Araguaia movement was organized in 1966 by the
    PC do B (Partido Comunista do Brasil””Communist Party of Brazil) on the borders
    between Tocantins, Pará, and Maranhão, a region known as Bico do
    Papagaio (Parrot’s Beak).


    The guerrilla members opposed the military regime and wanted to
    establish an independent state in the region. The movement was crushed by the
    Armed Forces in 1974.  

    Agência Brasil





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