Who we are

To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.

Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.


ECCHR mourns the death of Lúcio Bellentani, former Volkswagen employee and torture survivor

With great sadness, we have heard of Lúcio Bellentani’s death. Bellentani was a former employee of Volkswagen do Brasil and a trade unionist. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family as well as his allies in the Asocia ção Heinrich Plagge.

“Like few others, Lúcio Bellentani has fought to hold Volkswagen accountable for its role during the Brazilian dictatorship,” said ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck. “The Brazilian workers’ movement and we as partners in solidarity have lost a courageous and tireless fighter for justice.”

Bellentani’s death is a reminder for ECCHR to be unrelenting in the fight to legally address the role of German car companies during the Latin American dictatorships.

During the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985), Lúcio Bellentani worked for Volkswagen do Brasil, a VW subsidiary, and was active as a trade unionist. In July 1972, secret police arrested him at his workplace – in full view of the factory security guards. After his arrest, Bellentani spent eight months in detention, where he was tortured, followed by a further ca. 16 months in prison.

In September 2015, Bellentani and other trade unionists filed a complaint against VW do Brasil in São Paolo. The out-of-court negotiations with Volkswagen – in consultation with the workers – are slowly proceeding.

In November 2017, Bellentani mandated ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck to investigate possible legal steps in Germany against Volkswagen for Brazilian survivors of torture.



Volkswagen in Brazil: Automobile group collaborated with military dictatorship

Military dictatorship

Mercedes Benz in Argentina, Volkswagen in Brazil. Economic players, including multinational automobile companies, were beneficiaries of the military dictatorships in Latin America. A number of cases also point to complicity in the arrest and torture of trade unionists.

Press Contact

Maria Bause
T: +49 30 69819797

Michelle Trimborn
T: +49 30 40109454

M: presse@ecchr.eu