17. On November 4, 1997, the Commission received further information from the petitioners,
including the deposition of one of the survivors of the “Araguaia guerrilla movement.” These
documents were forwarded to the State on November 17, 1997.
18. In further communications received on April 14 and 22, 1998, the petitioners provide
additional information about the existence of military documents containing precise information
on the whereabouts of the persons who disappeared. This information was transmitted to the
State on April 20, 1998.
19. The Government responded by note, received on August 31, 1998, alleging in essence that
the violation had been remedied and for that reason, the case should be closed, pursuant to
Article 48(1). This communication was forwarded to the petitioners on September 1, 1998.
20. In a letter received on February 3, 1999, the petitioners requested more time to present
further information in connection with the case. On the same date, the Commission agreed to
the extension. On March 5, 1999, the petitioners made their final submissions in this case, and
the information was forwarded to the Government on March 11, 1999. On March 28, 2001,
another hearing was held before the Commission, with the participation of representatives of
the Government and the petitioners at which, after the parties had reaffirmed their original
positions, the petitioners requested that the Commission move forward with the proceedings
and that it take a decision on admissibility.
III. POSITION OF THE PARTIES
A.

Position of the petitioners

21. The petitioners alleged that from 1972 to 1975, a series of military campaigns were
conducted to eradicate a nucleus of rural guerrilla activity in the Araguaia region, in the
southern part of the state of Pará. The “Araguaia guerrilla movement” was founded by
militants of the Communist Party of Brazil (CPB) in 1966, and was mobilizing the local
population to foment a revolution to overthrow the Brazilian military government, which had
been in power since 1964.
22. The petitioners further allege that in the course of these military operations, almost 60
guerrillas disappeared. They alleged that they were killed in battle with Brazilian armed forces,
or arrested, tortured, and then killed. However, none of the individuals was acknowledged as
dead, remaining in the status of persons who had disappeared for political reasons. The
regime, allege the petitioners, would have concealed the entire existence of the conflict,
including the guerrillas' disappearance.
23. When democracy was restored, that is, in 1982, family members of 22 of the disappeared
persons brought proceedings in the Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro, asking for the
whereabouts of the disappeared persons to be established and their remains located so that
they could be given a decent burial and their death certificates could be registered. At first, the
national courts processed the case in the usual way, requesting documents from Executive
Branch officials, and summonsing witnesses. However, on March 27, 1989, after the judge
responsible for the case was replaced, the case was dismissed without ruling on the merits, on
the grounds that it was legally and physically impossible to comply with the request. Similarly,
the judge considered that what the plaintiffs were requesting –to be able to obtain civil
documents showing the absence of the persons who had disappeared– was covered by the
Amnesty Act and did not require any other judicial action 2.
24. The petition indicates that the plaintiffs in the case before the Federal Court appealed the
decision to dismiss the case and, on August 17, 1993, obtained a ruling from the Regional
Federal Court (Federal Court of Appeals), which reversed the decision of the lower court, and
returned the case to the same judge for finding of fact and a ruling on the merits. On March
24, 1994, the Federal Government filed requests for clarification 3 against the Federal Court's
2 The Amnesty Act, Law Nº 6.683 of August 28, 1979, allowed family members of persons who disappeared for
political reasons during the military regime to request a “declaration of absence,” which generated a presumption that
the individual who had disappeared was dead.
3 This remedy seeks to clarify the interpretation of an obscure or ambiguous ruling, rather than to modify its content.

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