called upon Brazilian President Michel Temer to veto a bill that would permit soldiers who kill civilians to be tried by military courts. Excerpt:
In the military justice system, the courts of first instance are staffed by four military officers and a civilian judge, all with an equal vote. The appeals court, the Superior Military Tribunal, consists of 15 military officers and five civilians. Its decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, a civilian court.
The military criminal code, approved in 1969 during Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985), provided that unlawful killings of civilians should be tried before military courts. But it was amended in 1996 to move trials for such crimes to civilian courts.
Under international and regional norms, extrajudicial executions and other grave human rights violations should not be tried before military courts. The Inter-American Court o[f] Human Rights has ruled that “military criminal jurisdiction is not the competent jurisdiction to investigate and, if applicable, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of human rights violations.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has held that it is not appropriate to try violations of human rights before military jurisdictions given that “when the State permits investigations to be conducted by the entities with possible involvement, independence and impartiality are clearly compromised.”
The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation of governments’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has called on states to ensure that military personnel are subject to civilian jurisdiction for any crimes that are not “of an exclusively military nature.”