WorldUnder the echo of Lava Jato, the Chamber accelerates the project to...

Under the echo of Lava Jato, the Chamber accelerates the project to undermine the power of the Public Ministry

The Lava Jato operation made the political class and the business world that negotiate with the Government tremble. He took a company president, Marcelo Odebrecht, and a former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to prison, and showed his firm intention to ‘clean up’ politics. The intention was good, it conquered Brazil, but time showed a political direction from the Public Ministry and the then judge Sergio Moro, who today takes its toll. The Chamber of Deputies has accelerated a crusade to increase political control over those who oversee public authorities. The vote on the proposal for constitutional amendment number 5 of 2021 is scheduled for this Tuesday, which deals with the change in the composition of the National Council of the Public Ministry. Sponsored by the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), the text is reported by Deputy Paulo Magalhães (PSD-BA) and already has the support of parliamentarians of various subtitles, from PT to PSL, from PSB to Citizenship. The topic was debated in the House’s plenary in the last two weeks, trampling previous discussions in a special commission and public hearings. The bill has faced stiff opposition from members of the MP, who understand that its approval should hurt the institution to death.

This is the second attempt to undermine the powers of prosecutors and prosecutors in less than a month. The first took place between September and October, when both houses of the National Congress approved changes to the law on administrative misconduct that loosen the rules to punish managers who commit this crime. This package includes permission to practice nepotism.

The main changes that concerned specialists were the increase in the number of CNMP advisers who would be appointed by the National Congress – from two to five among 17 members – and the obligation for the Legislative to appoint the institution’s magistrate, who would also exercise the role of deputy. president. The magistrate is responsible for analyzing all administrative complaints against members of the Public Ministry that could lead to any punishment. An example: the CNMP internal affairs office would analyze the conduct of any Lava Jato prosecutor who had used his office to illegally punish a politician.

Representatives of five entities of prosecutors and prosecutors coordinated by the National Association of Members of the Public Ministry (Conamp) have been pressing for the Chamber to reject PEC 5/2021. But to no avail, for now. In technical notes and press releases, prosecutors say the proposals “interfere with fundamental guarantees for the institution’s independence.” They fear that if the magistrate is appointed by politicians who could be the target of investigations, there could be targeted action against law enforcement officials.

In the same line, follows the National Association of Attorneys of the Republic (ANPR). For her, there is a need to improve the functioning of the CNP, “which includes the necessary listening to the Legislative Power and social groups”, with the revision of “transparency and accountability mechanisms”. However, the text under review does not indicate conditions for correcting errors committed by members of the Public Ministry, assesses the association. “On the contrary, it politicizes the council and subordinates the correctional agenda to occasional interests against actions of the MP on issues of national relevance.”

For this reason, in Brasília, the proposal has been called the PEC da Venança. Still, there is a feeling that changes would need to be made in order for the MP to be more rigid with its members. “Today, no member of the MP responds against improbity. Strong advice, with presence, is important for us to have transparency”, highlighted the sponsor of the proposal, Arthur Lira in an interview on CNN radio.

The former head of Lava Jato Deltan Dallagnol, for example, was denounced in 2016 for his defense of Lula to the National Council of the Public Ministry for using the famous powerpoint to accuse former president Lula of corruption. The projection, presented at a press conference, put the name of the PT member to place him as head of a gang of numerous crimes. Dallagnol’s trial was postponed 42 times by the Council until the complaint was time-barred. The rudimentary instrument has already been banned abroad, claims Lula’s defense, for promoting generic inductions.

Dallagnol, as well as the team of attorneys who made up Lava Jato, had conversations leaked by the series of reports by Vaza Jato, led by the newspaper The Intercept, and also in the Federal Police’s Spoofing operation, which located the hackers who leaked the content of conversations between prosecutors and former judge Sergio Moro in the Telegram application. The communications revealed how prosecutors acted several times under Moro’s guidance in the search for evidence against former president Lula. Moro’s departure to the Bolsonaro Government in 2019 only consolidated the reading of the political performance of prosecutors.

There is a deinstitutionalization of democracy”

Joaquim Falcão, jurist

The National Council of the Public Ministry was created in 2004. Its function is to carry out the administrative, financial and disciplinary inspection of the MP and its members. One of those who worked for its creation was jurist Joaquim Falcão, a law professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. Today, when analyzing the current PEC, he says that there is an attempt by the political class to shield itself.

“It is a clear strategy of right-wing populism to neutralize and paralyze the institutions of control,” Falcão told EL PAÍS. The professor was a strenuous supporter of Lava Jato’s actions. Lira is a first-time ally of President Jair Bolsonaro (non-party). For Falcão, the change has “an appearance of legality, but it is illegitimate”. “In the military dictatorship we had the Congress functioning, the Executive functioning and the Judiciary functioning. Everything looked good, but it wasn’t. It’s the same thing they’re trying to do now with the Public Ministry. There is a deinstitutionalization of democracy”.

Professor at the Brazilian School of Law and PhD in State Law, lawyer Telma Rocha Lisowski believes that the changes are an apparent reaction to the Lava Jato and its consequences. At first, Lava Jato – officially closed in February of this year after nearly six years of investigations – surrounded politicians from different spectrums, but especially from the PT. The operation is considered decisive for the overthrow of President Dilma Rousseff and for removing former President Lula from the electoral dispute against Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.

However, Lisowski says he does not have a catastrophic vision, as presented by the associations of prosecutors and prosecutors. “There is a certain exaggeration about this political influence.” Today, the attorneys general of the Republic and the states are already appointed by the president and governors. In some cases, such as President Bolsonaro’s, the governor does not even respect a triple list voted on by prosecutors and ends up choosing someone who is more aligned with his government.

In the same vein, followed a doctoral student in law at the University of Salamanca and professor at the Faculty of Law of Franca, Ana Cristina Gomes. “What we have today is pseudo independence from the Public Ministry”. According to her, there is an exacerbated fear on the part of prosecutors. “Why is there a body in Brazil that only it has the right to self-assess and inspect itself? Why a citizen with notorious legal knowledge cannot inspect it?”.

In Lisowski’s analysis, the main concern should be, if it were maintained, the forecast that appeared in the initial report and allowed the CNMP to review measures taken by its members, functioning as a second or third judicial instance. “It would be as if the National Council of Justice could cancel judgments, decisions, sentences of judges from all over Brazil”. This change was taken from the report by deputy Paulo Magalhães, who gave in to pressure from prosecutors.

Since arriving at the Chamber, the text has already had three different versions. This Tuesday will be your test by fire. His supporters estimated that he had less than 250 votes. For a PEC to be approved, the votes of 308 of the 513 federal deputies are required.

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