“Frozen” human rights and the authoritarian rule of Michel Temer

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Last June 10, the Minister of Justice Alexander Moraes published Ordinance No. 611 that "suspends the performance of management actions under the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship", except for actions related to: I - the National Public Security Force's operations and activities; II - the preparation and mobilization actions for the Olympic Games in 2016; III - to comply with court decisions; IV - the implementation of imposing budget; and V - the staff payroll management.


Human rights are frozen for 90 days. It's difficult to understand how it's possible that a government can be capable of a cruel and violent political-administrative act such as this one. We’ve criticized Dilma’s government for closing important departments for Youth, Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, all put together in a single Ministry. Now, with Michel Temer’s illegitimate government, this scandal reaches its apex. The message sent by Ordinance No. 611 to our society is that human rights are not important for Brazil, and that the priority is the Olympic Games and a State marked by a militarized police.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and the civil and political rights should be combined with economic, social, cultural and environmental ones. Unfortunately, Brazil has a terrible statistic on human rights violations: women victims of violence (including collective rapes and femicide), the extremely high index of black youth murders, people living in a situation similar to slavery, murder of LGBTI people, especially trans people, violation of indigenous peoples’ rights, torture in prisons and significant increase of women in the prison system. These are the most emblematic examples of violations of right in Brazil - we could also point to institutional racism in all policies and public services, the violation of children’s and adolescents’ rights, as well of people with disabilities, homeless and indigenous communities impacted by energy projects, human trafficking and so on. These problems are the result of a quite complex historical and cultural configuration, a combination of colonial history and its post-colonial consequences, several periods of political authoritarianism, and subaltern insertion into global capitalism. We thus have a white elitist political structure, scarcely permeable to democracy.


There are, in Brazil, several public agencies responsible for ensuring the fight against all this violence and for promoting human rights. The Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights had the task of promoting the transversality of these themes, and implementing some policies and programs, with a budget of only R$ 487.62 million in 2016 (approximately US$ 150 million), ie 0.016% of the total Union's budget. Considering that 55.66% of Brazil’s public budget this year was destined to pay the country's debt, human rights programs had only 0.029% of the budget for its public policies. It's way too little to promote the rights of citizens who most need State attention. The National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), which is part of the Ministry of Justice, also has a really low budget to carry out their activities - only 0.19% of the Union budget.


Michel Temer extinguished the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, and passed its functions to the Ministry of Justice - but, in the new structure of the Ministry, there is no reference to 'women', 'racial equality' or 'human rights'. The Minister Alexandre Moraes decided, probably along with the illegitimate president, that he will not work on that agenda. That's the message of the infamous Ordinance No. 611. The resources, already authorized by Congress through the budget law (LOA 2016), can’t be spent because the Minister of Justice decided that it’s not a priority. Through a stroke of the pen, this man committed a violation and re-victimized thousands of citizens. He ignored the 1988 Constitution, all international human rights treaties to which Brazil is a signatory, and the historical construction of social movements in favor of a less brutalized and more just and egalitarian society. It’s an authoritarian State.


* On June 23, a Decree transferred R$ 13 million (about US$ 4 million) from the human rights Department to the Presidency Cabinet: the budget action is intended for 'Formulation, development and training for social participation' in the human rights agenda. The decree does not describe how this item will be spent within the Presidency.


** On Thursday (23/6), the ABGLT (Brazilian Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people) and the ONG Conectas reported the threat of a retrogression of human rights, exacerbated by the political crisis, at a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN).



- Carmela Zigoni, political advisor, Inesc.


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