The Brazilian Judiciary Must Review its Decision and Authorize the Extradition of Dictatorship-Era Repressor Roberto Oscar González

Upon the Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil’s refusal to extradite the ESMA repressor to Argentina, human rights organizations are urging the neighboring country to reconsider its sentence so that justice may be served in the country where the crimes were perpetrated.

Together with HIJOS Capital, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the “recuperated grandson” Jorge Castro Rubel –victim of the facts under investigation–, we express our disagreement in notes sent to five STF judges regarding their rejection of the Argentine request for extradition of the repressor Roberto Oscar González, of the Task Group 3.3 of the School of Armed Mechanics (ESMA). In parallel, we request the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office put in place all possible mechanisms to revert the STF ruling.

Roberto Oscar González is charged with crimes against humanity committed at ESMA. He is accused, among other things, of enforced disappearances and an arrest warrant was issued against him 15 years ago.

In addition, he is accused of the kidnapping and suppression of the identity of Jorge Castro Rubel, born during his mother’s captivity at the ESMA clandestine detention, torture and extermination center in June 1977. González took the baby to the Pedro Elizalde Hospital, where he was handed over to those who for 37 years held him and concealed him from his biological family, who never stopped looking for him. Jorge recovered his identity and history in December 2014.

The sentence on González is inexplicable since the STF itself authorized the extradition carried out in May of the repressor Gonzalo “Chispa” Sánchez, accused of the same crimes in ESMA. On that occasion, most of the judges of the 1st court had interpreted that kidnappings and enforced disappearances are crimes of continuous execution and therefore do not prescribe.

In the González case, however, three judges changed their vote without justification and, in a unanimous ruling, the STF applied Brazil’s amnesty law to crimes committed in Argentina and considered crimes against humanity, including disappearances, as prescribed. In addition, the judges failed to take into account the crimes of which Jorge Castro Rubel is the victim.

This ruling is a worrying precedent, which hinders the justice process in Argentina for crimes committed by the last civic-military dictatorship. The Brazilian Supreme Court made an incorrect interpretation of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, presuming the death of victims of enforced disappearance to determine the interruption of the crime. Brazil has been a party to that same convention since 2014 and has already been condemned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case “Gomes Lund et al.” for the application of the amnesty law, which guarantees impunity for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

In a joint letter last week, Abuelas, H.I.J.O.S. Capital, Jorge Castro Rubel and CELS also urgently requested the Foreign Ministry to intercede with the Brazilian Attorney General and evaluate the possibility of presenting a direct appeal to the STF.

It is inadmissible that a decision of the Brazilian Court prevents Argentina from judging imprescriptible and unacceptable crimes, in compliance with its international human rights obligations.