Members of the Brazilian Armed Forces are trained in human rights
By Dialogo December 29, 2013
The Brazilian Defense Ministry focuses on training the Armed Forces in human and international rights by educating instructors who teach at institutes of the Navy, Army, and Air Force. About 100 soldiers and civilians participated in the Expedited Course on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law through lectures by professors and specialists in the field. The course was held from November 5-7 with the aim of training instructors at the educational institutions of the Armed Forces.
“The militarized police, at any hierarchical level, constantly incorporate law in the performance of their unique profession,” Adilson Luís Franco Nassaro, Lieutenant Colonel of the São Paulo State Police Force, wrote in his article “The State Police Force: Law Operator.”
“Their main tool is precisely the interpretation of legal rules, in order to achieve full compliance of the law and ‘law enforcement’ in defense of society for the preservation of public order,” the analyst said.
To strengthen training in human and international rights, the Defense Ministry wants to ensure that military forces comply with the highest standards, within and outside the country’s borders, as Brazil extends its activities in humanitarian assistance worldwide.
For Lt. Col. Franco Nassaro, the goal is “highlighting the importance of legal information and training in military and police activity and the recognition of the effective operation of law, which is processed in the direct relationship with the population, in real time,” outside the classrooms, forums, and law departments.
Professor Fausto Pocar, president of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Italy, concluded the course at the Naval Warfare School in Rio de Janeiro. He elaborated on the inherent difficulty of judging international war crimes.
The state, according to Pocar, has an obligation to protect civilians in an extreme situation. “Sometimes the state is unable to carry out that defense. For this reason, the international community takes responsibility. The United Nations, for example, acts on criminal matters in cases of international jurisdiction,” Pocar said.
Law enforcement authorities in Brazil have redoubled their efforts by educating all personnel on rights.
“The legal training of the militarized police has gained prestige in the different training and development courses for the State Police Force (Policía Militar). At the institution, almost half of the credit hours of courses in the field consist of matters related to legal science, with emphasis on their application in police activity,” according to Lt. Col. Franco Nassaro.
In the military field, however, Professor Pocar explained that there are different opinions in relation to the responsibility of a commander in the event human rights are not observed during a military exercise, act of war, or activity.
“The Commander must be aware that a crime was committed,” Pocar said. He believes it is important that human rights become the real basis for any military activity. “The discussions about this are fundamental.”
The Secretary of Personnel, Teaching, Health and Sports for the Defense Ministry, Julio Saboya de Araujo Jorge, gave the closing remarks of the course. He believes the constant evolution of human rights in society symbolizes a new framework of solidarity. “The Armed Forces have contributed to this great national effort, which extends from the Amazon to the poor populations in large urban centers,” he said.
The participation of the Brazilian Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions around the world is characterized by the relentless and resolute defense of human rights and international humanitarian law, Secretary Saboya de Araujo said.
The training of the Brazilian Armed Forces in the field of human rights and, in particular, international humanitarian law is particularly important given the country's growing commitment to humanitarian interventions in crisis situations due to natural disasters or conflicts.
In fact, the Brazilian Army led the command of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).after the earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, hit Port-au-Prince and its environs on Jan. 10, 2010, killing an estimated 220,000 people, including 96 UN peacekeepers.
The largest “blue helmet” contingent is represented by Brazil, which has 1,700 peacekeepers in Haiti. Other key contributors to the MINUSTAH mission are Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
This was the first edition of the course, but the Defense Ministry started to promote skills and studies in human rights in 2012. The Expedited Course was an unprecedented opportunity with the participation of international speakers. The Defense Ministry plans to make the course an annual training event.
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