UN Secretary General supports victim's right to truth on Human Rights Day

First published 10th Dec 2014

In a statement delivered on Human Rights Day for the 'Occasion of the Presentation of the Final Report of the Brazilian National Commission of Truth', UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stressed every victim’s right to ‘know the truth about violations that affect him or her’. The Secretary General also acknowledged that truth offers ‘victims and their relatives a possibility of coming to terms with their loss and grief. It grants them dignity and at least a small measure of remedy for their losses and suffering.’ 

The Brazilian National Commission of Truth, which issued its final report to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday 10 December, spent more than two years investigating executions, forced disappearances, torture and other crimes against humanity that took place during the military rule of 1946 to 1988.  

The report identifies 434 individuals killed under military rule. The commission acknowledges that the number of victims is probably much higher but it could not confirm more cases because it could not access the relevant security forces documents. 


Images of Brazilians who were disappeared under during Brazil's military dictatorship 1964-1985. Photo: John Otis for PRI, 30 Oct 2012.

Keeping a detailed record of conflict casualties – such as that created by the Final Report of the Brazilian Truth Commission - affords victims a basic, but essential recognition of their common humanity and ensures their lives will not be forgotten. Every Casualty is working with casualty recording organisations around the world, as well as states and the United Nations, to improve recording practice and ensure that one-day casualty recording can be universally implemented in situations of armed conflict. 

Only in this way can the dignity of victims be upheld, and their families receive the recognition and assistance they deserve. Moreover, as the Secretary General emphasized in his statement, ‘informing society on how they have been violated is a vital safeguard against the recurrence of abuse.’ 

The statement of the Secretary General on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Final Report of the Brazilian National Commission of Truth is reproduced in full below. 


New York , 10 December 2014 - Message on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Final Report of the Brazilian National Commission of Truth

On this important day, I send my congratulations to the Government and people of Brazil on their efforts to promote truth and national reconciliation through the work of the National Commission of Truth.

The United Nations encourages and supports efforts all over the world to uncover the facts about gross violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, and to promote justice and reparation.  This support is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we celebrate on this day every year, and international human rights treaties, including the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

I join Brazil in honoring the memory of those who suffered as a result of the gross and systematic human rights violations that took place between 1946 and 1988.  I urge everyone involved to disseminate the findings and recommendations of its Final Report as widely as possible.

Every victim has the right to know the truth about violations that affect him or her. Knowing the truth offers victims and their relatives a possibility of coming to terms with their loss and their grief.  It grants them dignity and at least a small measure of remedy for their losses and suffering.

Informing society and engaging in dialogue about fundamental freedoms, and how they have been violated, is a vital safeguard against the recurrence of abuse.

The United Nations stands together with all Brazilians in remembering their losses, and in their efforts to strengthen the protection of human rights and promote national reconciliation.


Originally published by the United Nations at: http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=8269