Thursday, 17 December 2009

Brazil: What Will the TC Look Like?

Brazil's truth commission plan has not been presented yet - it's apparently planned for Monday - but already a debate is starting about the form it should take.
...the latest draft of the plan uses the phrase "Truth and Reconciliation."

"It's a contradiction for the government to propose reconciliation, when it has done nothing to make information available, and has refused to declassify its archives," said Elizabeth Silveira e Silva of the Torture Never Again Group in Rio de Janeiro, the sister of a student who was forcibly disappeared.

"It's not possible to reconcile people without the recovery of the victims' bodies, and without the truth," said Beatriz Affonso, head of the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Brazil. The reconciliation that is needed is between state and society, but Brazil has not yet officially admitted the crimes committed during the 1964-1985 dictatorship.

It's an interesting point. Of the Latin American truth commissions, most - but not all - used the word "truth" in their titles and some chose to talk of "reconciliation". Brazilian rights activists want the commission there to be for "justice and truth" - a clearly different inflection to "truth and reconciliation". Some would argue that mentioning reconciliation at this stage is jumping ahead in the slow process towards societal forgiveness of crimes, and cannot be mandated or prescribed. Of course, in the end it is actions that will count.

Brazil's Turn for Truth and Justice (IPS)

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