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United Nations

Visits by key human rights officials demonstrated the U.N.'s commitment to promoting respect for basic rights in Brazil. In May, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson visited Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, reaching a working agreement with the government regarding technical assistance.

The second visit of a U.N. human rights official-a mission by the special rapporteur on torture in August and September-provided an important platform for groups investigating and denouncing this abuse to make themselves heard. In three weeks of intensive on-site research that took him to Brasília, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Belém, and Marabá, the special rapporteur, Sir Nigel Rodley, documented scores of cases of severe beatings and torture. At the end of his visit, he expressed deep concern over the state of the country's detention facilities, explaining that Brazilian prisoners were routinely subject to subhuman conditions and severe physical abuse. His full report-to be released during the 2001 session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission-was awaited with great anticipation.

Organization of American States

In June, for the second time in five years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Brazil. The previous visit-in December 1995-led to a substantial report on the country's human rights situation. This visit, by several commission members, underscored the importance of the work of the OAS's primary human rights body on individual petitions. During its stay in São Paulo, the IACHR received dossiers from groups working on violations ranging from prison conditions and the situation in juvenile detention centers, to abuses in rural Brazil, racism, and women's rights.

In its annual report, released in June, the IACHR published its findings in three cases against Brazil, including one condemning the government's failure to prosecute the military police responsible for the massacre of 111 inmates in the Carandiru prison complex in October 1992. Brazilian rights groups made greater use of the petitions process during the year. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government failed to heed the IACHR's recommendations in cases already decided, failed to respect deadlines, and did not submit complete responses to some petitions.

United States

Over the year, the U.S. gave relatively little direct assistance to Brazil. For fiscal year 2000, Congress approved U.S. $1.5 million in counter-narcotics assistance; for fiscal year 2001, the administration requested $2 million for the same item. For fiscal year 2000, Congress approved $225,000 for Brazil through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The administration requested $250,000 in IMET funding for fiscal year 2000.

The State Department's chapter on Brazil in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999 fairly portrayed the country's human rights situation.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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