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Further information on UA 95/91 (AMR 19/09/91, 12 March and follow-up AMR 19/17/91, 13 May) - Brazil: death penalty: possible reintroduction of death penalty

, Index number: AMR 19/019/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/19/91
Distr: UA/SC
3 July 1991
Further information on UA 95/91 (AMR 19/09/91, 12 March 1991 and follow-up
AMR 19/17/91, 13 May 1991) - Death Penalty
BRAZIL: Possible reintroduction of the Death Penalty
Amnesty International has learned that the parliamentary debate on the proposal
for a constitutional reform to allow Brazilians to vote in a plebiscite to
reinstate the death penalty for kidnappings, burglaries and rapes resulting
in the victim's death presented by Congressman Amaral Netto has been postponed
until August 1991.
On 12 December 1990, a Congressional Commission from the House of Deputies
(Comissão Especial da Camâra dos Deputados) approved the proposal which is
to be debated and voted on in Congress in the 1991 Parliamentary sessions which
started on 15 March. The proposal needs to be voted on twice in each house
in Congress and to gain a majority of three-fifths of votes. Once the
constitutional amendment is passed by parliament, public opinion will be polled
within 18 months.
Since the issue of UA 19/09/91 of 12 March 1991, increasing publicity
has been given by the Brazilian media to the death penalty issue. As press
coverage is gathering momentum the adoption of the death penalty seems to be
portrayed as a solution to violent crimes.
Brazilian human rights groups fear that the rising level of crime
throughout the country, coupled with the kidnappings of business people in
recent years, will be used as effective arguments to replace existing
legislation with the death penalty. Were the proposal to be passed by
parliament, a majority of voters might approve the reintroduction of the death
penalty as an appropriate means to fight violent crimes.
An opinion poll published at the end of April indicated that 60% of the
Brazilian population were in favour of the reintroduction of the death penalty
and 84% were in favour of a plebiscite on the issue. The parliamentary debate
on the death penalty proposal will now take place in August 1991. Amnesty
International is therefore requesting that appeals be sent as before regarding
our concern over the reintroduction of the death penalty.
Amnesty International opposes in all cases the imposition and infliction
of the death penalty, on the grounds that it violates the right to life and
that it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment. The
organization believes that it is a punishment which violates fundamental human
rights, which may discriminate against the under privileged and disadvantages
sectors of society, and which serves no useful penal purpose which would not
equally be served by lesser penalties
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The last judicial execution in Brazil was carried out in 1855 on a man convicted
of murder, later discovered to have been innocent of the crime. After this
case, death sentences were systematically commuted to life imprisonment. In
1890 the death penalty was excluded from the Penal Code. In the first republican
2
Constitution of 1891 the death penalty was abolished for common crimes but
retained under military legislation for application in wartime.
Since the abolition of the death penalty for common crimes was enshrined
in the 1988 Constitution, there has been one attempt to reintroduce it and
a proposal to hold a plebiscite on the issue. Both motions were defeated by
the Constituent Assembly in 1988.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters:
Participants are kindly requested to continue their appeals as before because
new information indicates that the parliamentary debate on the reintroduction
of the Death Penalty will take place in August 1991.
Please write courteously worded appeals, in Portuguese IF FLUENT, otherwise
in English, French or Spanish:
- expressing concern at the proposal to reintroduce the death penalty, which
Amnesty International believes is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading
punishment, and which brutalizes all those involved in the process of applying
it;
- recognizing Brazil's opposition to the death penalty in the past and their
vote at the UN General Assembly in December 1989 in favour of adoption of the
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the first international treaty aimed at the abolition of the death
penalty;
- urging the Brazilian Parliament to maintain Brazil's principled opposition
to the death penalty and to oppose firmly its reintroduction;
- stressing that reintroducing the death penalty would be contrary to both
world and regional trends towards the abolition of the death penalty, both
in practice and in law.
APPEALS TO:
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:
Presidente do Senado
Exmo. Sr. Senador Mauro Benevides
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telegrams: Presidente Senado,
Brasilia, Brazil
Telexes: 611357/611146
Faxes: +55 61 321-7333
PRESIDENT OF THE HOUSE OF
DEPUTIES:
Presidente Da Camara dos Deputados
Exmo. Dr. Ibsen Pinheiro
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telegrams:
Presidente Camara Deputados
Brasilia, Brazil
Telexes: 612082 CDEPA BR
PARTY LEADERS OF THE SENATE:
Líder do Partido do Movimento
Democrático Brasileiro
(PMDB) ( Party of the Brazilian
Democratic Movement)
Exmo. Sr. Humberto Lucena
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: 611357/611146
Faxes: +55 61 321-7333
Líder do Partido Frente Liberal
(PFL)
Exmo. Sr. Marco Maciel
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: 611357/611146
Faxes: +55 61 321-7333
PARTY LEADERS OF THE HOUSE OF DEPUTIES:
Líder do Partido do Movimento
Democrático Brasileiro
(PMDB)
Exmo Sr. Genebaldo Correia
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
3
Telexes: 612082 CDEPA BR
Líder do Partido Frente Liberal
(PFL)
Exmo. Sr. Ricardo Fiuza
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: 612082 CDEPA BR
COPIES TO:
- Instituto de Estudos Socio Economicos (INESC), SCS Qd.08 Bl.B-50 Salas
435/7/9/441 Supercenter Venancio 2.000, 70333 Brasilia DF, Brazil
(FAX +55 61 226 8042)
- Conferencia Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil (CNBB), Caixa Postal 132067
70000 Brasilia DF, Brazil
- Jornal do Brasil, Avenida Brasil 500, 20940 Rio de Janeiro RJ, Brazil
- Folha de São Paulo, Al. Barão de Limeira, 425, 01202 São Paulo, SP,
Brazil
and to diplomatic representatives of Brazil in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 August 1991.

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