HomeNewsBriefBrazil Senate Vote Could Shield Soldiers Charged With Abuses
BRIEF

Brazil Senate Vote Could Shield Soldiers Charged With Abuses

BRAZIL / 11 OCT 2017 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Brazil's Senate approved a controversial measure that would transfer jurisdiction for alleged crimes committed by members of the armed forces to the military itself, a controversial move that has been linked to impunity for abusive security forces in other cases.

On October 10, the Senate passed a measure previously passed by the lower house of congress, which would see cases of abuses by members of the armed forces against civilians judged in military, rather than civilian courts.

According to the government-run media service Agência Brasil, the reform would apply to cases in which members of the armed forces commit alleged abuses against civilians in the course of "guaranteeing law and order" operations, which are domestic military deployments authorized by the president for the ostensible purpose of assisting civilian authorities with public safety.

The recently approved reform still needs President Michel Temer's signature to become law. But local news outlets report that Temer is expected to veto a provision of the bill that would limit its application to "guaranteeing law and order" operations carried out during last year's Olympics. According to O Globo, with Temer's line-item veto, the reform "will become permanent."

The move by the Senate to approve the bill drew strong criticism from human rights groups.

Noting that Brazilian authorities have been increasingly calling on the military to assist with public safety operations, Amnesty International said the passage of the reform "raises concerns about the possibility of offering impunity to military personnel who violate human rights."

The international watchdog group also said that local human rights activists and civil society organizations have dubbed the plan a "license to kill."

The armed forces have been carrying out large-scale security operations in Rio de Janeiro recently, and the northern states of Acre and Rondônia have reportedly asked Temer to approve military deployments there to help combat drug trafficking.

InSight Crime Analysis

Brazil's military has a long history of abuses dating back to the period from the 1960s to the 1980s when the armed forces took power in a coup and ran the country as a dictatorship, torturing and assassinating numerous perceived enemies. This history is no doubt part of the cause for alarm among rights groups, especially given recent reports that soldiers are carrying out operations in Rio with their faces covered by skull masks.

In other countries where the military has been called on to perform duties typically associated with civilian police, the result has often been an increase in human rights abuses. And when those alleged abuses fall under military jurisdiction, the unsurprising result is that accused soldiers rarely face punishment, even in the most egregious cases.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

In addition to human rights concerns, the reform passed by Brazil's Senate also has worrying implications for security. Militarized security strategies have failed to yield sustainable results in the past, in part because abuses -- often unpunished -- have eroded citizens' trust in security forces.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 29 NOV 2013

Teenage gangs are descending onto Rio De Janeiro's beaches to rob tourists en masse, according to authorities, a crime…

BOLIVIA / 16 NOV 2012

Bolivia, Peru and Brazil declared that they will create a joint fund using money seized from criminal groups to help…

BRAZIL / 24 NOV 2015

The Brazilian state of São Paulo saw more police killings in 20 years than there were in 50 US states. In…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…