Vance Center Highlights Accountability Work in Brazil

December 2021

On International Human Rights Day, the Vance Center’s Human Rights Program highlighted the work of client Instituto Vladimir Herzog in Brazil, named after journalist Vladimir Herzog, victim of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985). In the current context of deteriorating rule of law, endemic impunity, and rising violence in Brazil, the Instituto and the Vance Center are working together to achieve accountability for crimes of the dictatorship. This includes challenging the Brazilian amnesty law as amici before the Brazilian Supreme Court in ADPF 320 with pro bono representation from the law firm of Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados. The submission argues that the amnesty does not apply to grave human rights violations under well-established international law principles.

The accountability work in Brazil has led to Italy. With the help of the Centre for European Legal Studies on Macro-Crime, the Human Rights Program and the Instituto are monitoring, and raising awareness in Brazil about, the first-ever criminal proceedings where a court of law has found a former member of the Brazilian military regime responsible for crimes committed during the dictatorship  (procedimento penale 21192/15 R.G.N.R. – C.As. n. 5/16 contro “DA SILVA REIS, Marco Aurelio ed altri tre”).  In November, the Court of Assise of Rome established beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant, Átila Rohrsetzer, had committed the crime of murder against Lorenzo Vinãs Gigli, an Italian-Argentinean who disappeared near the border between Brazil and Uruguay as part of the infamous Operation Condor. Although the defendant died months before the decision, thus leading to the closure of the proceedings, this historic decision has galvanized the fight for accountability in Brazil to which the Instituto and the Vance Center remain committed. Follow the work of the Instituto and the Vance Center here and here.