The decree to reinstate the Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances (CEMDP) is ready and should be published by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and the Ministry of Human Rights in the coming days, according to the Attorney General and former president of the Eugênia Gonzaga commission.
“The information I have from the Ministry of Human Rights is that the commission’s restitution decree is ready. I imagine that with this trip to China and health problems of the President of the Republic, the matter is among the next pendencies,” he said. Gonzaga in an interview with Brazil in fact.
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The commission was emptied and theoretically extinguished less than a month before the end of the Bolsonaro government. The Presidency of the Republic approved the final report, according to an order published in an extra edition of the Official Gazette (DOU), on December 30. The document, however, has no signature.
Eugênia Gonzaga defends that the act of extinction is “completely null”, since it does not have a signature. “In my view, this act of extinction is completely null and, therefore, I think it is very easy for the current government to redeploy the commission and appoint the members”, says the prosecutor, remembering that, on the same day of the publication of the order, Bolsonaro traveled for the United States.
“They (Bolsonaro government) discovered a loophole in the law that demands a final report when the commission finishes fulfilling its purposes. They rushed to do this in December. How did this commission fulfill its purposes if we have at least 160 bodies not located?”, asks Gonzaga.
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The Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances is a state entity that was created in December 1995 with the aim of recognizing and finding those who died and disappeared as a result of political activities during the military dictatorship. During these years, the commission also issued opinions on claims for compensation.
Since assuming the presidency, Bolsonaro has shrunk the commission’s technical staff and dragged out the work. In the first year, in August 2019, the former president replaced four of the seven members of the body.
At the time, Bolsonaro justified the measure by stating that at that time Brazil had a right-wing government. “The reason (is) the president changed, now it’s Jair Bolsonaro, from the right. Period. When they (previous governments) put terrorists there, nobody said anything. Now the president has changed. The same has changed the environmental issue too”, stated at the time.
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The following year, the commission received a new regiment to correct supposed “irregularities”. In practice, the new norms overturned the resolution that established the procedures “for the issuance of certificates for the purpose of rectifying the death certificates of persons recognized as dead or politically missing”. At the time, the director of the commission informed that the ceremonies for the delivery of death certificates had been suspended.
“The commission is a State entity created by law. The government comes in, the government leaves, the commission is there. How was the way, then, to thwart the commission? Putting a majority of people against the commission’s objectives. more bodies were sought, no more death certificates were issued, no one was recognized as a victim of the dictatorship,” says Eugênia Gonzaga, who chaired CEMDP until she was fired by Jair Bolsonaro.
From now on, Gonzaga expects “very clear signs from the Presidency of the Republic”, in the figure of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “Families can no longer be denied the right to know exactly what happened. There has to be a clear message for these serious past injuries. There needs to be a clear policy of memory, truth and preservation of evidence. I need very clear signage”, he says.
Editing: Nicolau Soares
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