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Brazil's Supreme Court Narrows Scope of Partial Immunity for Congressmen and Senators

05/04/2018 - 11h51

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LETÍCIA CASADO
FROM BRASÍLIA

Brazil's Federal Supreme Court (STF) has decided to narrow the scope of partial immunity for congressmen and senators. From now on, the court will only try members of congress if they are accused of committing a crime during their terms in office and if the crime is somehow connected to their activities as representatives.

Though the decision was unanimous, the new approach will not be triggered automatically. Rather, each Federal Supreme Court justice will decide whether a case should be sent to a lower court or if it fits the criteria required to remain in the STF.

While all justices voted to narrow partial immunity, 7 of the 11 justices found that the court should only try offenses connected to the office of a member of Congress.

Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress
Judges Luís Roberto Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes during the STF session
Judges Luís Roberto Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes during the STF session

Currently, lawsuits fluctuate between courts depending on whether or not a member of congress is in office. If he commits a crime prior to being in office but gets elected, then the case jumps from a first instance court all the way up to the Supreme Court. If the member of Congress in question leaves office, then the case gets sent back down to the original court.

According to Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, the back-and-forth between the courts overwhelms the higher courts in particular and delays the outcome of such proceedings, thus increasing the chances that a case will get time-barred.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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