Washington College of Law|
Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Case Nos. 1740 and 1746 Brazil)
Case No. 1740, March 22, 1972, denouncing the arrest of two farm leaders, Manoel da Conceição Santos and Luis Dos Santos, of the municipality of Pindare-Mirim, State of Maranhão, Brazil, on January 23, 1972, the two being charged with promoting political disturbances in that place. According to the claim, the prisoners were transferred on February 9, 1972, to the headquarters of the 4th Infantry Battalion, in San Luis, capital of the aforementioned state, where they were subjected to abuse by military authorities.
In a note dated April 12, 1972, the Commission requested the Government of Brazil to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with articles 42 and 44 of the Regulations.
The Government of Brazil, in a note dated December 22, 1972, from its Mission to the OAS, provided the following information on the case:
- A report dated June 20, 1972, from the federal agent to the Chief of the Federal Public Service, on the events that had taken place in the municipality of Pindare-Mirim.
- A copy of the warrants for the arrest of Manoel da Conceição and Luis Dos Santos issued by the Department of Security of the State of Maranhão, Division of Political and Social Order, on January 26, 1972, in San Luis, Maranhão, specifying the weapons and propaganda found in their possession.
- A report of January 23, 1972, from the Division of Political and Social Order, Department of Security, on the case, requesting the preventive imprisonment of Luis Moraes dos Santos and Manoel da Conceição Santos.
- The sentence handed down by the Military Judge imposing preventive imprisonment on Luis Moraes dos Santos and Manoel da Conceição Santos.
- A telegram from the Military Judge to the Chief of Political and Social Order (DOPS) in San Luis, Maranhão; transmitting the order for the release of Manoel da Conceição Santos.
The Commission examined this case, having available the documents provided by the Government of Brazil, during its Thirtieth Session (April 1973), having appointed Dr. Robert F. Woodward rapporteur for the case.
During that same session, and on the basis of the rapporteur's recommendation, the following was decided:
To declare inadmissible in accordance with Article 9 (bis) d. of the Statute and Article 54 of the Regulations, the part of the claim dealing with Mr. Luis Dos Santos, inasmuch as a proceeding before judicial authority in Brazil was then pending.
To file without prejudice the part of the claim refering to Mr. Manoel da Conceição Santos; pursuant to articles 38 and 54 of the Regulations of the Commission, the Secretariat was to request the claimants to complete their denunciation, and if this were not completed within a reasonable period of time, the Secretariat was authorized to file it without further action.
This decision was communicated to the Government of Brazil by a note dated June 15, 1973, and to the claimants by a letter dated June 27, 1973.
The claimants having failed to complete their denunciation with regard to Mr. Manoel da Conceição Santos, the Secretariat, by virtue of the aforementioned decision, filed the case for no further action.
Case No. 1746, June 10, 1972, denouncing the violations of human rights to which political prisoners in Tiradentes Prison, in São Paulo, were subjected and the decision to transfer many of them to other penal establishment located in remote areas of the country. In other cases such transfers had been made without prior notification to the families of the prisoners or to their legal counsel. That situation had led to a hunger strike and to other problems in that penal institution.
By a note dated August 22, 1972, the Commission requested the Government of Brazil to provide the pertinent information, transmitting to that government the pertinent parts of the claim, in accordance with articles 42 and 44 of the Regulations.
At its Twenty-ninth Session (October 1972 ), the Commission considered this communication and decided to postpone its examination until its next regular session in view of the fact that the 180-day period for the provision of the requested information by the Government of Brazil had not yet expired (Article 51 of the Regulations).
In a note dated April 3, 1973, the Government of Brazil replied to the request, providing extensive information on the acts denounced. In summary, it stated the following:
- The authorities were aware that certain "extremely dangerous" elements had organized a terrorist cell within Tiradentes Prison to pressure the other inmates. These facts, which were widely reported by the press, led the authorities to take urgent and forceful measures. Within the prison that terrorist cell issued pamphlets, letters, and communiqués designed to discredit the country abroad.
- In view of the fact that all the prisoners involved in these activities were in that institution under preventive imprisonment or had received sentences denying them their liberty by reason of actions taken against the state (National Security Law No. 898/69) and were subject to the authorities of military criminal justice, these authorities were requested by the directors of the prison to take appropriate measures.
- The military judicial authorities ordered the parties responsible for the problem to be transferred to other penal institutions.
- Allegations of arbitrariness in those transfers are unfounded, since they were effected by order of competent authority (National Security Law, Article 76; Criminal Code, Article 29.3; Code of Military Criminal Procedure, Article 588; and Military Criminal Code, articles 61 and 62).
- The assertion that the transfer of the prisoners to other penal institutions constituted a threat to their personal security, leading them to fear for their lives, is entirely false and without basis, inasmuch as the transfer was aimed at dismantling the subversive terrorist cell that was operating inside the prison.
- The assertion that the families and counsel of the prisoners were not duly informed of the transfers is also false.
- Thirty-two inmates, displeased by the measures taken, declared a hunger strike on May 12, 1972, and requested that the transfers be suspended and that the prisoners already relocated in other penal institutions be returned to Tiradentes Prison.
- Of 120 inmates, only 32 took part in the strike.
- The inmates involved at no time complained of maltreatment or lack of attention on the part of prison authorities, even during the hunger strike, and medical care was provided.
- It is not true that the authorities prevented the rebellious inmates from speaking with the Archbishop of São Paulo or that mediation by the Director of Penal Institutions was imposed on the inmates. The authorities also permitted the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil to visit the prisoners.
- The account of the actions of the Director of Penal Institutions as given in the denunciation is designed to confuse the Commission, for that official is charged with strict enforcement of the legal provisions concerning the prison system and, accordingly, he visited the prison in order to make an objective assessment of the problem. The fact is that the parties concerned sought him out as mediator, according to testimony by church officials.
- As for the case of an adolescent minor being in Tiradentes Prison, he was there awaiting the results of the police investigation ("inquérito") which led to preparatory proceeding No. 132/7 in the chamber of the Military Judge of the Military Criminal Court who transferred the case to the Juvenile Judge of the city of São Paulo, from whom a decision is now pending.
- The Government of Brazil therefore rejects the claim submitted to the CIDH, inasmuch as the transfer of prisoners was carried out in accordance with laws in effect and was ordered by competent judicial authority in order to halt the subversive activities of the aforementioned group.
At its Thirtieth Session (April 1973), the Commission examined Case 1746, together with the information provided by the Government of Brazil, and, in accordance with Article 39.d of its Regulations, declared the case inadmissible in that it refers to events or situations that bear no relation to a disregard of human rights by the Government of Brazil.
This decision was communicated to the Government of Brazil in a note dated June 15, 1973, and to the claimants in a letter dated June 19, 1973.
[ Inter-American Human Rights