Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reforms under discussion in Brazil

Conversations are underway in the Brazilian House of Representatives about changes in the Military Penal Code. The Code dates to 1969, which is before the 1988 Constitution was promulgated. Many provisions of the Code are incompatible with the newer Constitution's democratic rules.

Four years ago Ministra Elizabeth Rocha of the Superior Military Tribunal (STM) presided over an internal committee convened to propose amendments to the Code. The committee included public defenders, military attorneys, state military judges, professors, and jurists, and used the court's website to open a public conversation with civil society. The work is complete and a report has been submitted to the President of the House of Representatives, with a request to establish a special committee to reform the Code.

One major innovation in the proposal is abolition of the death penalty in favor of a maximum sentence of 30 years confinement. The Brazilian Constitution calls for the death penalty for military crimes in wartime. The STM committee's argument is that since Brazil never applied the death penalty even during World War II and because contemporary human rights and humanitarian treaties, UN resolutions and the Treaty of Rome do not provide for the death penalty, there is no reason to keep it in the law. There are other innovations in the STM proposal, but this is undoubtedly one of the most important.

For more information:

Thanks to Ministra Rocha for information on this important initiative.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).