Minister Damares will not silence civil society – 02/20/2021 – Opinion

VARIOUS AUTHORS (names at the end of the text)

It was the end of June 1993. Brazil, after the end of the military dictatorship, had adhered to many human rights treaties. Committed to affirming his respect for the obligations assumed, he appointed the Minister of Justice, Maurício Corrêa, to head the Brazilian delegation to the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. There, numerous Brazilian NGOs were present to participate in the global forum “Human Rights for All”.

There were profound disagreements between states as to what would result from the meeting. A sign of Brazil’s relevance, the chairman of the conference’s writing committee was Ambassador Gilberto Saboia. Thanks to the qualities of a skilled and patient negotiator of the Brazilian diplomat, the conference enshrined in the “Declaration and Program of Action”, its final document, universality, indivisibility of human rights and democracy as the most favorable form of government to protect these rights.

The “program of action” recommended that States prepare national action plans for better promotion and protection of human rights and that civil society entities participate in the implementation of human rights in cooperation with governments.

The Fernando Henrique Cardoso government started, the task of preparing the National Human Rights Program (PNDH) was assumed, with extensive consultation with human rights NGOs. On May 13, 1996, the PNDH 1 was promulgated, the first in the Americas and the third in the world, with an emphasis on political and civil rights. The initiative had repercussions in states and municipalities, which created human rights programs.

In 2002, with the participation of NGOs throughout Brazil, the PNDH 2 was published, emphasizing economic, social and cultural rights. The elaboration of the two PNDHs owes much to the late and noted political scientist Paulo de Mesquita Neto.

During the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government, reaffirming the promotion and protection of human rights as a State policy, after extensive public debate, with proposals built on successive consultations with civil society organizations and governments and regional conferences in all states, it was PNDH2 was reviewed and updated and the PNDH3 was prepared. The three programs exhibit a clear focus identity.

The government of President Dilma Rousseff took up several themes of the PNDH 3, with emphasis on the implementation of the National Truth Commission (CNV). In this effort, the human rights holders of previous governments came together to call on the National Congress to approve the creation of the CNV, an objective achieved thanks to supraparty support.

The announcement by Ms. Damares Alves, Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, of the creation of a ministerial working group (WG) to review the PNDH 3, without the participation of civil society and emptying the role of the National Human Rights Council, it is a serious setback that concerns the Arns Commission.

The objectives of the minister’s white plate WG are “to analyze aspects related to the formulation, design, governance, monitoring and evaluation of the PNDH 3” for its “improvement”. “Improvement” is understood to adapt the program to the bolsonarista agenda, which promotes the armament of the population; insists on the pandemic’s denialism; violates indigenous rights and wants to open its territories to mining; stimulates deforestation, fires and poisoning of rivers in the Amazon; ignores gender issues; fights LGBTQIA + rights; denies global warming; defends the exclusion of illegality for military corporations; and promotes the forgetfulness of tortures, murders and disappearances perpetrated by the military dictatorship. This revisionism, if consummated, will be a disaster for democracy.

The Arns Commission proposes that human rights organizations pay attention to prevent, if necessary with the help of the Judiciary, such setbacks. And it calls on the institutions of democracy to stop this attack on civil society participation in human rights state policy.

Jose Carlos Dias

President of the Arns Commission for the Defense of Human Rights and former Minister of Justice (FHC government)

José Gregori

Former Minister of Justice and Human Rights (FHC government)

Paulo Vannuchi

Former Minister of Human Rights (Lula government)

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro

Former Minister of the State Secretariat for Human Rights (FHC government)

– All authors are founders and representatives of the Arns Commission


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