Case Nos. 1769, 1772, 1778 and 1789 (Brazil)

Case 1769. By a communicator dated June 26, 1973, supplemented on Jury 7 and 17 and on August 23 of the same year, the following denunciation was made: That in the parish of Santa Terezinha, Diocese of San Felix, State of Motto Grosso, the parish priest, Father François Jentel, had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for alleged commission of subversive acts. It was also reported that a Catholic bishop and other members of the priesthood of that diocese had been arrested in June and that some of them had been mistreated. In addition, illegal searches of documents belonging to the Bishopric had been made.

In a note dated December 4, 1973, the Commission requested the Government of Brazil to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Rules of Procedure.

At the thirty-first session (October 1973) the examination of the case was postponed since the period of 180 days provided for in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure, which was allowed the Government of Brazil to supply the pertinent information, was still running. This decision was taken without prejudice to requesting that Government to provide further information on the status of the appeals filed by the claimants against the judgment pronounced against Father Fançois Jentel.

In accordance with that decision, the Commission wrote to the Government of Brazil on January 9, 1974. Also, in a letter dated January 14, 1974, the claimants were informed of the processing of the matter.

At the thirty-second session (April 1974), the Commission, noting that the Government of Brazil had not yet replied to the requests made on September 4, 1973 and January 9, 1974, and that the period provided for in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure for supplying that information had already expired, decided to again request the above-mentioned Government to provide the information and also to request the claimants to provide further information with respect to the status of the appeal filed against the Judgment against Father François Jentel; what investigation had been made of the arrest of the Catholic archbishop, Pedro Casaldáliga and what Judicial procedures had been initiated concerning the other facts mentioned in the denunciation.

In compliance with the above-mentioned decisions, the Commission addressed the Government of Brazil on May 29, 1974, and the claimants on the same dated.

At that stage of the case, the Commission continued the examination of it at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974) and took note of the fact that, with respect to the situation of Father François Jentel, the Higher Military Court of Brazil had not confirmed the decision of the lower court and, consequently, the case against that priest had been stayed. However, the CIDH noted that the Government of Brazil had not replied to the above-mentioned requests for information.

After a lengthy examination of the status of the case, the Commission decided as follows:

  1. To file that part of the claim referring to Father François Jentel;
  2. To continue the examination of that part of the denunciation referring to other matters and to again request the Government of Brazil to send the information requested and to warn it of the expiry of the period provided for in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure.

In implementation of this decision, the Commission addressed the Government of Brazil in a note dated December 18, 1974. Also, in a letter dated November 14, 1974, it informed the claimants of this decision.

Case 1772. By the communication dated July 12, 1973, the following denunciation was made:
  1. Arbitrary arrest of many persons (the names are given);
  2. Tortures and mistreatment of the persons arrested and death of some of them as a result of tortures or direct action by the prison guards;
  3. Imprisonment of political prisoners together with common criminals in establishments lacking hygiene facilities and subject to violent and arbitrary prison conditions in which they were deprived of consultation with attorneys that were looking after their defense and frequent suspension of visits by their family members;
  4. Conditions of insecurity for the life of the prisoners;
  5. Forced labor, and
  6. Absence of trials or holding of trials without due process.

This report was accompanied by various documents on the status of human rights in Brazil, including the manifesto or declaration of Bishops and Superiors of religious orders in the Northeast of Brazil and the manifesto entitled "To the Bishops of Brazil", published by an organization supporting the political prisoners in that country.

The Commission examined this case in the course of its thirty-first session (October 1973) and decided to transmit the pertinent parts of the report to the Government of Brazil, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Rules of Procedure, excluding any fact or situation that might have been included in reports previously examined by the Commission. In implementation of this decision, a note was sent to the Government of Brazil on December 19, 1973.

At its thirty-second session (April 1974), the Commission considered the status of the processing of the case 1772 and decided: a) To repeat to the Government of Brazil the request for information made on December 19, 1973, mentioning the date of the expiry of the period provided for in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure. To that end, it sent a note to that Government on May 29, 1974. Also, in a letter of the same date, it informed the claimant of the status of the matter.

The Government of Brazil did not reply to this new communication either.

With this background facts, the Commission continued its examination of the matter at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974) when it considered that, although the Government of Brazil had not replied to the requests for information, many of the facts that were the subject of the complaint referring to the general status of human rights in Brazil could be included in cases previously examined concerning which a definitive pronouncement of the CIDH had already been made. Consequently, it decided to file this case and to combine it, as background information, with File 1684, already closed, on the general status of human rights in Brazil and to inform both the Government of Brazil and the claimants of this decision. To that end, it sent a note to the above-mentioned Government on December 18, 1974, and to the claimants on November 14, 1974.

Case 1788. October 30, 1975, reporting that the juvenile, Ivan Axelrud the Seixas, aged 19 years, arrested about three years earlier, transferred to the jurisdiction of juvenile court of São Paulo, had not been released because of the fear of the Brazilian authorities that this juvenile, once free, would avenge the murder of his father, Mr. Joaquín Alencar Seixas, who had been arrested and tortured by the Brazilian authorities and died as a result of such tortures.

In addition, the following facts were denounced: i) that several persons (the names were given) had been kept for months and even years in prisons in Brazil until they were "absolved" of the charges against them in view of the fact that in that country the legal principle according to which a person "is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty" had been reversed in the sense that accused persons were presumed to be guilty until they could prove their innocence. It also reported that a number of persons (the names of whom were given) had been murdered by the authorities. The report mentioned a total of 104 persons and gave the date of the death of each one of them.

The Commission examined this case at its thirty-second and thirty-third sessions (April and October 1974 respectively) on the following bases:

  1. the Government of Brazil had not replied to the request for information dated January 9, 1974; b) further data and information to continue the examination of the case would be requested of the claimant, and this was done on April 23, 1974.

Consequently, it decided in the last of the above-mentioned sessions to again request the claimant to send the necessary data to enable an examination to be made of the matter, and postponed any decision until its next session. In implementation of this decision, a letter was sent to the complainant on November 11, 1974.

Case 1789. October 30, 1973, denouncing the arbitrary arrest of the former Brazilian federal deputy, Mr. Paul Stuart Wright (of the Brazilian Workers Party), which took place in December 1973.

In its note dated January 9, 1974, the Commission requested the Government of Brazil to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Rules of Procedure.

The Commission examined the status of the initial processing of the case at its thirty-second session (April, 1974) and noted that the Government of Brazil had not replied to the request for information. It also noted that, in order to continue the examination of the matter with the appropriate information, it was necessary to determine whether the appeals provided for in the domestic jurisdiction of Brazil had been lodged and exhausted, as prescribed by Article 54 of the Rules of Procedure.

Consequently, it decided, at that session, to request the complainant to supplement the denunciation and inform it whether, in this case, the appeals the laws of that country establish for the defense of human rights had been filed with the competent authorities of Brazil.

In implementation of that decision, the Commission wrote to the complainant on April 24, 1974.

At its thirty-fourth session (October 1974), it was not possible to continue the examination of case 1789 because further information had not been received from the complainant. It was therefore, decided to repeat the request that he send such information and to warn him that, if it were not provided within a reasonable period of time, the matter would be filed without further action being taken.

In implementation of this decision, the Commission wrote to the complainant on November 11, 1974.