Cablegate: Brazilian Human Rights Secretariat Downgraded;
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001922
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV BR TIP
SUBJECT: BRAZILIAN HUMAN RIGHTS SECRETARIAT DOWNGRADED;
HUMAN RIGHTS SECRETARY RESIGNS
REF: A. BRASILIA 2684
B. BRASILIA 1849
C. BRASILIA 1862 D. BRASILIA 1867
1) (U) Summary. On July 12, President Lula announced that the Special Secretariat for Human Rights (SEDH) would lose ministerial status and would be folded into the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). That same day, Human Rights Secretary Nilmario Miranda announced his plans to step down to enter Minas Gerais State politics. NGOs and human rights activists protested Lula's decision, and believe that it is an attempt by the GOB to divert public attention away from SEDH's "incompetence." SEDH Under Secretary for Human Rights Defense and Promotion Perly Cipriano told poloff on July 14 that a number of GOB officials disagree with Lula's decision. End Summary.
CORRUPTION PLAGUES GOB; LULA DOWNGRADES SEDH --------------------------------------------
2) (U) Since May, a series of corruption scandals have battered President Lula da Silva and his administration. As a result, a number of high level GOB officials have resigned and Lula has been forced to shake-up his ministerial cabinet (ref B). Human Rights Secretary Nilmario Miranda resigned on July 12 (ref C). That same day, Lula announced that the Special Secretariat for Human Rights (SEDH), a special ministry attached to the Presidency, would lose ministerial status and fall under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice (ref D). Miranda has announced that he plans to campaign for the 2006 presidency for the Workers' Party (PT) in Minas Gerais state.
NGOS PROTEST LULA'S DECISION ----------------------------
3) (U) Brazilian human rights NGOs and civil society organizations protested Lula's decision to downgrade SEDH, and questioned why secretariats with a less significant role, such as the Special Secretariat of Aquaculture and Fishing, were spared. In an open letter to the GOB, the NGO Human Rights National Movement released a statement that read in part: &The decision of the President of the Republic (to downgrade SEDH) clearly signals to the Brazilian public that human rights are definitively not a priority for this government.8 The Forum of National Human Rights Entities (FENDH), an alliance of Brazilian NGOs, believes that the recent downgrade is an attempt by the GOB to divert public attention away from what some activists characterize as SEDH's &incompetence.8
4) (SBU) During a July 13 conversation with poloff, Elizabeth Silveira e Silva, President of the Rio de Janeiro branch of the nationwide Torture Never Again NGO said that the stripping away of SEDH's autonomy represents a step backward in the fight for human rights in Brazil. Silva openly critiqued Miranda's performance, and specifically cited SEDH's failure to secure the release of dictatorship era dossiers as a possible reason for Lula's decision (ref A). Silva was not optimistic that SEDH under the MOJ would advance human rights successfully in Brazil.
GOB OFFICIALS DISAGREE WITH LULA'S DECISION -------------------------------------------
5) (SBU) Contrary to press reports, Perly Cipriano, Under Secretary for Human Rights Defense and Promotion at SEDH, SIPDIS told poloff on July 14 that the announced plan to remove SEDH's ministerial status and move it to the MOJ has not been confirmed. Cipriano said that many within the GOB believe that Lula's decision is "contrary to the GOB's plans to support human rights in Brazil." Cipriano also told poloff that a number of GOB officials do not support the plan and have met to discuss SEDH's future.
6) (U) Cipriano could not confirm that SEDH's internal structure would remain intact after moving to the MOJ, but believed that significant administrative, staffing, and policy changes would occur.
7) (SBU) Lula's decision to downgrade SEDH is surprising, given the priority that Lula and his administration have placed on promoting human rights. If SEDH moves to the MOJ, it will be more difficult for NGOs, human rights activists, and the GOB to advance human rights in Brazil since MOJ priorities could take precedence over human rights issues. Although Cipriano and other GOB officials believe that SEDH's ministerial status should be maintained, Lula's decision is likely final.