Washington College of Law
Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Communication 1769 (Brazil)
1769, presented through a communication dated June 26, 1973,
supplemented on July 7 and 17 of that year, denounces the arbitrary arrest and
trial of a Catholic priest and the arrest of a Catholic bishop and members of
the personnal of the dioces (sic) of San Felix, Matto Grosso, events that are
alleged to be in violation of Articles IX, XXV and XXVI of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (right to inviolability of the
home, to protection from arbitrary arrest, and to due process).
In notes dated September 4, 1973, and January 9, 1974, the Commission
requested the Government of Brazil to provide the corresponding information.
These (sic) request for information were repeated in a note dated May 29, 1974,
since the period of time for provission (sic) of that information by the
Government provided for under Article 51 of the Regulations had elapsed.
As to the thirty-fourth session (October 1974), the Commission decided, on
the basis of information according to which the military tribunal had
ultimately dismissed the case against the Catholic priest, François
Jentel, to file case 1769 insofar as the status of that priest was
concerned and to continue its study of the other matters denounced in
that claim reiterating to the Government of Brazil its request that it send the
information requested, advising it of the deadline provided for under Article
51 of the Regulations. 
Pursuant to this decision, the Commission sent a note to the Government of
Brazil on December 18, 1974. Likewise , it also informed the claimants of this
decision through a note dated November 14, 1974.
In a note of February 6, 1975 (No. 28), from the Brazilian Mission to the
OAS, the Government of Brazil requested that period of time provided for in
Article 51 of the Regulations of the Commission be extended in order to provide
information on the case. In a note of February 21, 1975, the Commission
informed the Brazilian Government that a 120-day extension had been granted,
pointing out that this extension would expire on May 2, 1975.
Through a note dated April 30, 1975 (No. 81) from the Brazilian Mission to
the OAS, the Government of Brazil provided information on the case. The
infomation provided is, in summary, as follows:
- That the incidents that took place beginning in 1972 in Santa Terezinha,
San Felix, Matto Grosso, reflect some of the unusual measures taken as part of
the effort undertaken by the Government of Brazil to establish order in the
settlement or a large part of that territory currently unexplored, since the
land in that zone was for many years isolated from the more progressive centers
of the country and had no value whatever because of access problems.
Having overcome these obstacles, some settlers managed to reach those areas in
order to settle down, building ranches and establishing families; they live by
hunting, fishing and rudimentary agriculture.
- In seeking a means to effectively incorporate the Amazon region into the
country's economy high government officials have increased communication and
transportation to the area and have been establishing agricultural projects and
introducing modern techniques for agricultural improvement. These changes led
to some conflict between settlers and the titleholders of the property.
- The Government of Brazil has implemented legal instruments that enable it
to pacefully (sic) resolve agricultural conflicts (since this involves public
lands, which, for the most part have been returned to the Union), through the
Lan (sic) Law (Law No. 4504, November 30, 1964), Supplementary Legislation, and
more specifically, by virtue of Decree No. 7730, of Apri1 17, 1972, which
provides for needed assistance to individuals residing in zones in which new
agricultural projects are being conducted.
- Mindful of the social implications of its territorial settlement programs,
the Government of Brazil decided in favor of the old occupants of the lands in
keeping with Decree 773 which states that "individuals residing in a zone
where the programs referred in the above article are being conducted, who have
formed urban communities, may not be dispossessed of their dwellings of their
cultivated lands without prior Permission from the Ministry of
- The Government of Brazil cannot allow an individual, taking advantage of
just claims in connection with agrarian problems, to raise the banner of
agitation or disorder or based on legitimate expectations, to seek to grossly
mistify (sic) extremism.
- In the case of Santa Terezinha, the Ministry of Agriculture, through the
National Institute of Land Settlement and Agrarian Reform, having identified
the land owners (120), and with the prior permission of the bussiness (sic)
that is conducting the agricultural project and has title control over the
funds; 'CODEARA', granted 12, 000 hectares for final settlement of those rura1
- The measures taken by the Government with regard Father François
Jentel and Bishop Pedro Casadáglia were aimed at avoiding a worsening of
the tensions existing in the area and Father Jentel was tried and condemned at
the fírst hearing by the competent Military Tribunal and later acquitted
by the High Military Court, at which point he left the country of his own free
- Bishop Pedro Casaldáglia was not being held and continues to
excercise (sic) his priestly duties.
The Commission continued its examination of this case at its thirty-fifth
session (May 1975), together with the information provided by the Government of
Brazil; it decided to again address to Government of Brazil to request more
information with regard to the circumstances under which the priests and
religious personnel of the diocese of San Felix were arrested.
Pursuant to this decision, a note was sent to the Government of Brazil on
August 7, 1975, through the Brazilian Mission to the OAS. In a letter of August
11, 1975, the claimants were informed of this decision.In a note dated October
2, 1975 (No. 2), from the Brazilian Mission to the OAS, the Government of
Brazil replied to the Commission' s note of August 7, reporting, in summary,
- In 1973, proceedings began in the Eighth Military Circuit Court (Matto
Grosso), to investigate the events that took place subsequent to those that
gave rise to the action taken against Father Francois Jentel, who had returned
to his country (France).
- During the course of the proceedings in 1973, the Bishop of San Felix,
Pedro Casaldáglia, despite his being the intellectual author of
subversive activities, was simply summoned to appear in court totestify,
without ever having been deprived of liberty much less having been placed under
arrest or in prison quarters. The same procedure was followed in the affair
involving the Bishop of Goiás, Tomas de Balduvico.
- The priest accused during the proceedings referred to which reference is
made in the request for information filed by the CIDH, under point 3 of the
note dated August 7, prelates Antonio Canuto, Pedro Sola Barbarin and Eugenio
Consoli, were detained for questioning in connection with the proceedings and
set free, having been kept only in custody, in accordance with the provisions
contained in Article 59 of Decree Law No. 898/69 and in Article 18 of the
Military Police Procedure Code; therefore, the settlement made in the
denunciation to the effect that these priests were "simultaneously"
arrested along with Bishop Casaldáglia could not have taken place, since
as stated before, Bishop Casaldaglia was never held prisoner despite the fact
that it has been proved that he has committed acts in violation of the Penal
Code, such as distribution of pamphlets to incite subversion of lega1 order.
- With regard to point C of the note of August 7 from the CIDH, it should be
stated that he (sic) property search of the Directory was conducted seeking
arms and documents, in accordance with Articles 172, 176 and 185 of the
Military Police Procedure Code; there officials found arms of undetermined
- Therefore, the aforementioned search and seizure was not conducted on an
arbitrary basis, but rather in accordance with legal provisions contained in
the pertinent legislation.In accordance with the Regulations, the Commission in
a letter dated October 3, 1975, transmitted to the claimant the pertinent parts
of the information provided by the Government.
The Commission continued its examination of case 1769 at its thirty-sixth
session, along with the information provided by the Government of Brazil and in
view of the fact that the pertinent parts of the information provided by the
Government had been transmitted to the claimant, it agreed to postpone
any decision on the matter so that the claimant, if he deems it appropriate,
may. formulate his observations on the information provided by the Government
 Articles IX and
XXV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
 See the report
of the thirty-fourth session (OEA/Ser. L/V/II.34, doc. 30, page 41).