Volkswagen and Brazil to Negotiate Torture Settlement

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Volkswagen and Brazilian justice officials will negotiate a settlement for the torture of Volkswagen employees during Brazil’s military dictatorship. The company is accused for allowing the torture and detention of employees who opposed the dictatorship.

Volkswagen of Brazil. (Photo courtesy of

The Brazilian National Truth Commission, implemented by President Dilma Rousseff in 2012 to investigate allegations of crimes and other wrongdoing during the military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985, released a final report in December 2014 saying that Volkswagen collaborated with the regime in 1972. Volkswagen handed over facilities near Sao Paolo to the regime, which were then used as detention and torture centers.

Activists representing former Volkswagen employees filed a complaint in September alleging that 12 Volkswagen employees were arrested and tortured at the factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, which is near Sao Paolo. Other employees were allegedly laid off and placed on regime blacklists.

Lucio Bellentani, a former Volkswagen employee and communist activist reported that he was taken “in handcuffs to the personnel department” where he was tortured.

Brazilian justice officials are considering using the reparation funds to build a memorial or museum dedicated to the victims of the military dictatorship – though talks are still ongoing. Manfred Greiger, a Volkswagen official has said that discussions will go on at least into 2016: “we want to look at the pros and cons of the next steps to be taken.”

At least 400 people were disappeared during Brazil’s military dictatorship. Volkswagen is the only company named in the Truth Commission’s report to conduct its own investigation into allegations.


For more information, please see:

DW – Brazil: Torture lawsuit against VW – 23 September 2015

Agence France-Presse – Volkswagen to negotiate settlement in Brazil rights case – 1 November 2015

Estado – Volkswagen negocia reparação judicial por apoio à repressão durante ditadura – 1 November 2015

TeleSur – Brazil Dictatorship-Backer Volkswagen Negotiations – 1 November 2015

DW – Report: VW negotiating torture reparations in Brazil – 2 November 2015



The Horrors of the South Sudan Civil War

By Tyler Campbell

Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

JUBA, South Sudan – A report released this Tuesday by the African Union has shed light onto the unbelievable scale of the atrocities committed during the two-year civil war in the new country of South Sudan. Wide spread reports of murder, rape, mutilation, torture, and even forced cannibalism make the report a disturbing and depressing window into the short history this country has faced.

Young Dinka Tribe Warrior Photo Courtesy of the Guardian

South Sudan came into existence in 2011 when 99% of the population voted to separate itself from North Sudan. President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his vice president, Riek Machar, held the new nation together for two years. Both leaders were representatives of their respective ethnic groups, the President, a Dinka, and the Vice President, a Nuer. Then, unexpectedly, in the summer of 2013 President Kiir abolished his cabinet and fired his vice president.


Kiir’s action sent shockwaves through the country and within days it had descended into full civil war between the two major ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer. This August the fighting was halted when the two leaders, president and former vice president, came together and signed a peace deal. In theory ending the civil war. However, this shocking report threatens to shatter the fragile peace between the two groups.


The report from the African Union found “sexual and gender-based violence” and “extreme cruelty” in the practices of both sides during the war. Even more alarming is the report that most of the atrocities were carried out against civilians not involved in the fighting. These atrocities include mass rape against all ages, the beating and then burning of civilians based only on tribal facial marks, and the forced cannibalism of civilians by soldiers. Places of worship, hospitals, and places of protection were also attacked.


The report from the AU ruled that there were reasonable grounds to find that war crimes were committed and human rights violated. However, the AU was not yet willing to rule that genocide had been committed, even though the lines of the conflict were drawn between two distinct ethnic groups.


A lot is still yet to be decided and resolved. The AU report gave some advice on what is to happen next with the young country. First, it stated that the government was certainly at fault for what had happened. The reports by President Kiir that the fighting began because of an attempted coup do not seem to have any basis in fact. Second, the AU suggests that neither Kiir not Machar play any role in a transitional government.


It still remains to be seen if the peace agreement formed by the two sides will be completely effective. Both sides still remain hostile against one another, constantly accusing the other of breaking the peace deal. The AU report, which was written a year ago, was only just released because of fear it would incite more violence. This still remains a distinct possibility.



For more information, please see:


The Washington Post – South Sudan report shows civil war horror: “I have seen people being forced to eat other humans’ – 29 Oct. 2015

The New York Times – Rape and Cannibalism Cited Among South Sudan Horrors – 28 Oct. 2015

The Guardian – South Sudan civil war inquiry details torture and forced cannibalism – 28 Oct. 2015

Sudan Tribune – South Sudan’s Kiir moves to take down Machar & Amum, Khartoum says accords unaffected – 23 July 2013