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Brazil apologizes to former political prisoners

The Brazilian government on Monday issued an official apology to more than 120 former detainees of Brazil's military dictatorship, which ruled the country until 1985. It was made at a former holding facility in Rio De Janeiro during a reparation ceremony. The apology comes just after the Brazilian Access to Information Act took effect [JURIST report] last month, increasing government transparency. The law will allow citizens to seek access to information that has previously been shrouded in secrecy despite a constitutional provision [Article 5, XXXIII text] requiring public access to information. Speaking at a ceremony in May to mark the swearing in of a truth commission [JURIST report] that will investigate human rights abuses under the country's military dictatorship, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff [official profile, in Portuguese] said, "the new law represents a major institutional improvement to Brazil, expression of the transparency of the State, guaranteeing basic security and protection for the citizens."

The new information law and the creation of the truth commission have been hailed by many as positive steps forward for Brazil. The commission is authorized to investigate abuses that occurred under Brazil's military dictatorship, which reigned the country from 1964 to 1985, but its findings will not lead to any trials [Al Jazeera report] due to a military-era amnesty. During the swearing-in ceremony, Rousseff, who was herself imprisoned for three years [BBC profile] during the military dictatorship, said "Brazil deserves the truth, new generations deserve the truth, and—above all—those who lost friends and relatives and who continue to suffer as if they were dying again each day deserve the truth."

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