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UA 95/91 - Brazil: death penalty: possible reintroduction of death penalty

, N° d'index: AMR 19/009/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 19/09/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 95/91 Death Penalty 12 March 1991
BRAZIL: Possible reintroduction of the Death Penalty
A 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, has been presented by Congressman Amaral Netto.
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,
starting on 15 March. It is feared that this reform may be considered under
an emergency procedure (regime de urgência). 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.
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.
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 underprivileged and disadvantaged
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
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.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
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
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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: (061) 1357/1146
Faxes: (061) 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: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR
PARTY LEADERS OF THE SENATE:
Líder do Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB)
Exmo. Sr. Humberto Lucena
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 1357/1146
Faxes: (061) 321-7333
Líder do Partido Frente Liberal (PFL)
Exmo. Sr. Marco Maciel
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 1357/1146
Faxes: (061) 321-7333
PARTY LEADERS OF THE HOUSE OF DEPUTIES:
Líder do PMDB
Exmo Sr. Genebaldo Correia
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR
Líder do PFL
Exmo. Sr. Ricardo Fiuza
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR
3
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
- 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 23 April 1991.
TO: Recipients of UAs by e-mail/telex
FROM: UA team, IS
The Brazil research team have asked us to send a supplementary address list
for appeals on the above Urgent Action. The addresses are as follows:
PARTY LEADERS OF THE SENATE:
Líder do Partido de Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB)
Exmo. Sr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Praça dos Tres Poderes
70.160 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 1357/1146
Faxes: (061) 321-7333
PARTY LEADERS OF THE HOUSE OF DEPUTIES:
Líder do Partido Democracia Social (PDS)
Exmo. Sr. Victor Faccioni
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR
Líder do Partido de Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB)
Exmo. Sr. Jose Serra
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR
Líder do Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT)
Exmo. Sr. Jose Genoino
Praça Tres Poderes
70.064 Brasilia, DF Brazil
Telexes: (061) 2082 CDEPA BR

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