Amendment to Limit a Prosecutor’s Powers?
Late in the evening, the Brazil Congress rejected a controversial amendment – PEC 37. If it had passed, the ramifications would have been immense.
For days on end, massed demonstrators had vigorously opposed PEC 37, arguing that it would lead to more corruption in a country already ravaged by political and law enforcement misconduct. Feeling “the voice of the people” in its collective ear, the congress voted 430-9 against the amendment.
If PEC 37 had been passed, it would have given the power to conduct criminal investigations exclusively to the police, removing federal prosecutors altogether in the evaluation of criminal charges. Simply put, it would have severely curtailed the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes.
If someone is charged, it sounds good, maybe. . . . Or maybe it doesn’t.
Sadly, the track record – the history of police investigations and findings “south of the border” – includes a lot of investigations and findings riddled with contrived charges, falsified evidence and scapegoat victims. PEC 37 would only have given this a veil of legality in Brazil.
And the consequences would have extended further – to hindering any criminal defense lawyer (representing a client) who normally would have interacted with a prosecutorial counterpart.
In short, PEC 37 would have created something close to a police state – its justice department a “paper tiger,” a functionary (not equal) of the police, with no oversight or unbiased authority.
What’s so relevant is the larger ripple effect it would have had overseas in the U.S. and elsewhere. For example, in the U.S. the criminal defense of alleged international drug trafficking (originating in Brazil) could possibly have been thwarted by arbitrary (or even contrived) police actions and decisions over there. In short, it would have akin to defending a client here with one hand tied behind the back in Brazil.
The Blanch Law Firm, experienced in international criminal defense, immediately recognized this potentiality. It applauds the Brazil Congress for maintaining its position regarding impartial justice.
— Stephen Heath-Jones