Attempt to secretly revise human rights program in Brazil – HRW

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Human Rights Watch has raised alarm about Brazil’s exclusion of civil society from discussions about changing the country’s human rights policies, suspecting a secret plan to undermine what has for decades been regarded as a critical achievement in the defense of human rights in Brazil.

“The Bolsonaro administration, which has promoted an anti-rights agenda, has announced it is planning to change the National Human Rights Program in absolute secret, and without the participation of anyone who disagrees with its policies,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch.

By contrast, the last revision to the program under President Lula involved some 14,000 people in the discussions and a widely regarded transparent process. The National Human Rights Programs (PNDH) follow the guidelines of the 1993 Vienna Convention, and Brazil was one of the first countries to promote this formulation (PNDH-1, in 1996, PNDH-2, in 2002, and PNDH- 3, in 2009). PNDH establishes a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of government efforts to improve the human rights conditions in Brazil.

Since 2019, Bolsonaro has eliminated the government committee in charge of coordinating the implementation of the National Human Rights Program, now the group proposing new changes is made up solely of members of his administration.

The approach is an affront to the democratic rule of law, the Constitution, and the National Human Rights Programs built in Brazil, say some 211 Brazilian NGO stakeholders in calling for the immediate revocation of the administration’s new regulations that created the working group for the PNDH-3 review.

By Milan Sime Martinić