mardi 15 avril 2008

UPR - Brazil

Universal Public Review on Brazil - 11.04.2008, afternoon

(Head of Brazilian delegation: H.E. Mr. Rogério Sottili – Executive Secretary, Special Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic on Human Rights)


In his introduction, Mr. Sottili stressed the importance of human rights in Brazil, which is remembered not only by various holidays, but also discussed in congresses.

Next, the secretary of social development & hunger reduction took the floor in order to present recent steps the Lula government in Brazil has taken to address problems such as hunger and poverty:

  • “Fome Zero” (“Zero Hunger”), to improve the distribution of agricultural goods and fight hunger in threatened regions
  • “Bolsa Família” - a family allocation program for poor families in order to permit them to feed their children while sending them to school at the same time

On violence and homicides, the Brazilian delegation also presented an optimistic outlook, despite certain problems:

  • The homicide rate in Brazil is still relatively high, but it has been falling over the past years
  • They also mentioned a program of of contributions to poor policemen who earn low salaries, contributions that are conditioned on the police officers attendint Human Rights courses in order to guarantee that (suspected) criminals are treated correctly

The delegation also briefly addressed some other problems that Brazil is still working to improve:

  • Problem of Land Distribution
  • Women’s rights
  • Racial Equality (Here, the delegation mentioned a conference for the revision of the Durban declaration that will take place in Brasília)

Questions 1

  • Slovenia expressed concern about discrimination against young women (who may not be receiving pensions, have other types of low financial support, or even adolescents deprived of liberty); they inquired as to what Brazil has done to improve this situation, and what will be done in the future?
  • Colombia offered praise to Brazil’s achieved progress and efforts in human rights and exprest interest in Brazil’s approach to domestic violence and women’s rights as it faces similar problems.
  • China took the floor mostly expressed approval for the human rights situation in Brazil, and the delegation's presentation
  • Azerbaijan congratulated Brazil for its good human rights record, and for its participation in all key HR treaties. They also noted that Brazil has created many different secretariats/ministries for human rights subjects within the government structure; they asked whether this has been an effective strategy?
  • Peru declared that Brazil has enacted some of the most effective laws in human rights in various areas: combating torture, prosecuting police murders, as well as promoting racial an gender equality. They asked if the results of Brazil’s special commission on the aftermath of the military dictatorship has been effective? In closing, they stressed the importance of freedom of expression and of easy public access to information.
  • India expressed praise for Brazilian law giving international human rights treaties constitutional status in domestic law
  • Malaysia offered compliments for Brazil’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS, and requested more information on how Brazil has fought this epidemic. They also expressed interest in knowing Brazil’s strategy to bring primary education to poor and remote areas.
  • Ghana inquired whether Brazil’s education system include programs to fight youth violence, which is responsible for a large part of overall violence in the country?
  • Cuba offered Brazil its congratulations for having made so much progress for a developing country so little time after a 21-year period of military dictatorship (1964 - 1985), and offered praise for Brazil’s “flowering democracy”, as well as for the “Fome Zero” program –they also requested more information on how this program worked.
  • Pakistan inquired about the reasons for the persistence of human rights problems in Brazil; whether it was because of a "need to change attitudes" or something else? (The question was not expressed in a very specific manner)
  • The Netherlands lauded Brazil's exemplary human rights legislation and offered praise for the free press in Brazil that permits an open discussion on this subject. They also expressed strong approval for Brazil's policy of turning human rights legislation into federal law. However, they noted that there is always a gap between legislation and reality; concerning the problem of torture, they asked what has been done to end and prevent torture in PRACTISE (and not only law)?
  • South Korea was next to take the floor
  • Syria asked the Brazilian delegation to further elaborate on its program to eliminate poverty and hunger
  • France requested more detailed information penal responsibility in Brazil.
  • Norway commended the legal framework for human rights in Brazil and offered praise for government efforts to combat slave labor and racial discrimination as well as Brazil’s efforts to respect sexual orientation. Concerning freedom of opinion, however, they stated that it seems as if legislative bodies have failed to address the problem of MEDIA CONCENTRATION in Brazil, which makes it hard to investigate corruption (and which can lead to violence and threats in order to keep news hidden). They asked what actions the Brazilian government has taken to address the problem of concentration of media ownership?

Answers 1 (from the Brazilian delegation)

  • To Peru, the delegation answered first by mentioning Brazil’s amnesty law at the end of the military dictatorship, which allowed exiles to return to Brazil without fear of persecution or arrest. They also stated that in 1995, the state recognized its responsibility for the cases of the dead/“disappeared” political opposition members during the dictatorship – 221 of cases gained financial compensation. In 2007, the secretariat for human rights in Brazil created a DNA database to try to identify the family members of political disappearances that hadn’t yet been found, so that they can be compensated. Another challenge in this area was the opening of the Archives: The archives from the dictatorship have now become part of the national archives, and the government is committed to making all the information from the military years.
  • On women’s questions (In response to Slovenia, Azerbaijan), the delegation first mentioned the “Pacto Nacional” (National Pact), and the implementation of the “Maria da Penha” law against discrimination, as well as the governments continuous efforts to guarantee reproductive rights and sexual freedom
  • In response to South Korea, France, Norway, concerning criminal Justice, the delegation responded by mentioning the 1990 law introduced which extended the possibility to be judged to adolescents, in order to combat youth crime; however, this made the prison population explode. In 2007, the law was revised. To France, the delegation responded that Brazil opposes changing the law concerning the legal age for penal responsibility, which remains fixed at 18.
  • In response to the Netherlands: Concerning torture, in 2006, Brazil adopted a plan of torture prevention (mostly in the Northeast of the country), they also permitted visits of prisoner detention sites in order to prevent torture and make it possible to react in case of abuses.
  • Response to China, Cuba and Syria: Dr. Rosilene of the delegation presented the “Fome Zero” ("Zero Hunger") program in more detail, explaining that it is an inter-ministerial initiative, involving all levels of government (federal, state and municipal). It involves specific payments to families (the payments are higher or lower based on the number of children in a family) as well as providing basic “food baskets” and free nutrition in certain schools.
  • Response to China and Syria on health issues: The delegation mentioned Brazil's universal health care system, which is used by about 60%-70% of Brazilians. However, they also pointed out some remaining problems in this area concerning the qualification of health personnel as well as limited capacities. In response to Malaysia’s questions on AIDS, they stated that the Brazilian government had made a very large investment in AIDS treatment.

Questions 2

  • Australia asked if Brazil plans to establish a national Human Rights institution
  • Algeria stated interest in the measures used to implement the laws on agriculture and foods and it congratulated Brazil for its use of the remains of sugar cane in order to produce ethanol fuel. They also used this opportunity to CRITICIZE the use of corn in ethanol production, since this aggravates the world's food problem!!
  • The United States expressed concern about reports of state police committing extrajudicial killings; they asked what the government doing against this? They also spoke of allegations of torture in the adult as well as in the juvenile penal system.
  • Russia was next to take the floor.
  • They were followed by Senegal.
  • Chile expressed praise for the “Bolsa Família” (Family allocation) plan, in the context of the great importance of programs to help children complete their primary education.
  • Argentina highlighted the importance of Brazilian-Argentinean cooperation through MERCOSUR's supranational human rights department, as well as inquiring about Brazil's efforts to work through the history of its military dictatorship.
  • The United Kingdom stated its approval for the Brazilian federal government’s active role in promoting human, but added that at the state and municipal levels, the government's role is not nearly as good. They mentioned problems in the judicial system, especially in the juvenile court system, and expressed concern over police violence (for example, while invading favelas). They also expressed concern about the ill-treatment in some cases of human rights defenders, especially when they confront powerful local authorities. They also expressed a preoccupation with remaining problems of child and slave labor as well as human trafficking in Brazil.
  • Sri Lanka mostly offered praise for Brazil’s achievements (especially in terms of its health efforts), and asked which strategies can be adopted to address health issues.
  • Guatemala also expressed praise for Brazil’s high right of mandatory schooling for children, citing a 94% success rate of children enrolled in school.
  • Canada reiterated the UK's concertn about Brazil’s efforts to protect and defend human rights protectors; they also voiced concerns about the low proportion of women, Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people in government positions.
  • Germany mentioned the problematic situation in Brazil’s prisons (overpopulation,..) the inquired about future measures of the government to improve the situation. They also voiced concern about ongoing violence of police officers, and wondered how Brazil could bring about a change in a “culture of violence” at local and state levels.
  • Venezuela mainly stressed the right to land. They stated that this is a very important basic right, and they were concerned with the fact that most land in Brazil is owned by few people, implying limited access to land for people - they inquired about Brazil’s plan for agrarian reform.
  • Ecuador asked how is Brazil dealing with the problems of children who live on the street, and thus have incentives to use/sell drugs and resort to violence?
  • Palestine offered great praise for Brazil’s HR record; they did not express any specific concerns or questions.
  • Belgium offered its congratulations for Brazil’s stand for the abolition of the death penalty on the world stage. They also cited remaining problems in Brazil in guaranteeing public security, recommending enhanced security for human rights defenders. They asked fr further details on the possibility of the implementation of such a program.
  • Indonesia also offered praise for Brazil’s human rights record, but cited problems of violence against women. They also mentioned violence in certain parts of the country – specifically, recent violent outbreaks in Brazil's 2 largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. They asked what Brazil does to deal with police violence?
  • Japan was next to take the floor.
  • Mauritania inquired about the measures that are being taken against forced labor (especially concerning people of African descent).
  • Nigeria said that it welcomed the democratic reconstruction brought about through Brazil’s 1988 constitution and commended Brazil’s economic and social developments. However, they also expressed concern about remaining racial inequalities, despite laws against racism. They requested that Brazil guarantee racial equality through programs in health care, education, and other areas; they also recommended that Brazil pursue public policies to improve the living conditions of indigenous people and African descendents.
  • Mexico compared itself to Brazil as a similar country with similar challenges, expressing that they hoped to continue to learn from Brazil’s experience. They also wanted to know, like Australia, whether Brazil plans to create a national human rights committee?
  • Angola expressed concern about problems with salary inequality between men and women and also about the fact that there is little female representation in public offices. They also mentioned other problems related to racial equality, and challenges for descendents of Africans – they asked to know how Brazil’s affirmative action program can be further developed.
  • Bangladesh expressed admiration with Brazil’s success in reducing extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.
  • Egypt also voiced approval for Brazil’s human rights efforts, especially in addressing the treatment of African descendents (despite certain remaining problems). They also inquired about how Brazil plans to collect “disaggregated statistics” on racial equality.
  • Morocco also expressed praise for Brazil’s human rights record. They inquired about Brazil’s efforts to reduce poverty, asked about the possibility of establishing an indicator for human rights respect in Brazil.
  • South Africa complimented Brazil for its efforts to eliminate racism and xenophobia, and to end discrimination. They reiteraded praise for the “Fome Zero” program – they had orignially intended to request further information on the family allowance program, but their question had already answered earlier. They confirmed that they see this approach as the best response to poverty and underdevelopment.
  • Jordan was next to take the floor.
  • Bolivia offered mostly praise for Brazil, and stressed the importance of their bilateral relations.
  • Uruguay also offered mostly thanks for Brazil's presentation, and praise for their human rights record and their important bilateral relations as members of MERCOSUR.

Answers 2:

  • The Brazilian delegation agreed that Brazil must continue to investigate threats and violence against human rights defenders. They mentioned that there had been a total of 45 such cases of threats until 2007.
  • To Argentina, concerning the process of working through the aftermath of the military regime, they mentioned their program “Direito à Verdade e à Memória” (“The right to Truth and Memory”), a program meant to expose the events that occurred during the dictatorship an offer compensation.
  • They also stated that children’s situation in Brazil is still a sensitive issue; in 2007, Brazil adopted a social agenda to address adolescents' problems.
  • They also cited the adoption of the program “Brasil sem homofobia” ("Brazil without homophobia") in order to promote equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.
  • In response to Algeria, on agrarian reform, the delegation stated that Brazil uses ecological zoning in order to increase the use of renewable fuel as well as maintain the capacity to produce nutrition.
  • To Venezuela, they responded Brazil’s focus is to guarantee sustainable development while respecting social and labor rights - they did not mention any specific plan for agrarian reform.
  • Concerning extreme poverty and education, the delegation stated that Brazil intends to increase its minimum salary again (which is around $270/month at the moment) and possibly index it to inflation
  • In response to Japan, Mauritania and South Africa, concerning racial equality, the delegation responded that in statistics over the past years in economic studies, Brazil already has many indicators showing the roots of inequality. They stated that the Brazilian government has been promoting education on Africa and African immigrants as well as indigenous peoples.

- Nathan J. Wooden

Aucun commentaire: