Brazil: “House Passes Police Impunity Bill!”

CCJ proíbe procuradores de investigar polícia: The Estadão reports, but I read this first in CartaCapital magazine, which editorializes against the bill reported on.

“House judiciary committee prohibits prosecutors from investigating police.”

A Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (CCJ) da Câmara aprovou ontem um projeto que retira do Ministério Público o poder de abrir investigação para apurar ilegalidades cometidas pela polícia, diminuindo o controle externo do órgão às atividades policiais. O projeto, do deputado Marcelo Itagiba (PMDB-RJ), delegado e ex-secretário de Segurança Pública do Rio, anula parte da resolução do Conselho Nacional do Ministério Público, que disciplina o controle externo da atividade policial.

The Constitution and Justice Commission of the lower house of the Brazilian federal congress approved a bill that withdraws from the Public Ministry (prosecutors) the power to investigate illegalities committed by police, diminishing external controls over police activities. The bill, authored by Marcelo Itagiba (PMDB-RJ), a [former federal police] delegado and former state secretary of public security for Rio de Janeiro, overrules part of the resolution by the National Council of the Public Ministry, which displines the external control of police activity.

Itagiba says the charge that the bill “diminishes oversight” is “mendacious and false,” but the Estadão report apparently endorses that view — without providing an independent summary of the bill’s contents or rationale.

Or so much as even reporting the bill number, so one can go and try and look it up.

I tend to suspect as much myself — it sounds plausible, for various reasons — but that is still editorializing in the news hole.

A proposta ainda será votada pelo plenário da Câmara, antes de seguir ao Senado.

The proposal still have to be voted on by the full House, before going to the Senate.

A aprovação do projeto, por 38 votos a 9, foi considerado um retrocesso pela Associação Nacional dos Membros do Ministério Público (Conamp) e pela Associação Nacional dos Procuradores da República. “É resultado de um lobby fortíssimo feito pelos delegados de polícia que, antes de pensar nos interesses da sociedade, estão buscando seus interesses corporativos e financeiros”, afirmou o presidente da Conamp, José Carlos Cosenzo.

The approval of the bill, with a vote of 38-9, was considered a step backwards by the National Association of Members of the Public Ministry (Conamp) and the National Association of Federal Prosecutors. “This is the result of a very powerful lobby by police officials who, before thinking of the interests of society, are thinking of their own corporate and financial interests,” said Conamp president Cosenzo.

O presidente da associação dos procuradores, Antonio Carlos Bigonha, disse que, com esse projeto, o cidadão que quiser alguma resposta sobre o que aconteceu no âmbito policial terá que perguntar somente à própria polícia.

The president of the prosecutors association, Bigonha, said that, with this bill, the citizen who wants some response about what happens in the realm of the police will have to ask the police themselves.

Did anyone bother to ask any of the lawmakers who voted for it why they did?

“O que se decidiu hoje é que a polícia passa a ser a única instituição do País que é investigada apenas pela própria polícia”, afirmou o deputado Flávio Dino (PC do B-MA), que votou contra aprovação do projeto. Ele citou o caso na menor presa numa cela com homens no Pará. Ela foi violentada e torturada. “Quem investigará os abusos cometidos na delegacia? Se aprovarmos esse projeto, só a polícia investigará a polícia. Isso não é salutar.”

“What was decided to day is that police will become the only institution in Brazil that only the police themselves can investigate,” said lawmaker Flávio Dino (Communist Party of Brazil, Maranhão), who voted against the measure. He cited the case of the minor woman kept in a cell with men in Pará. She was raped and tortured. “Who will investigate the abuses committed in the police precinct? If we approve this bill, only the police will investigate the police. This is not healthy.”

O projeto aprovado ontem susta o item da resolução que permite ao Ministério Público, “havendo necessidade e conveniência, instaurar procedimento investigatório referente a ilícito penal ocorrido no exercício da atividade policial”.

The bill approved yesterday strikes down the language that permits the Public Ministry, “when necessary and fitting, to commence an investigation into crimes committed will serving as a police officer.”

“O discurso é falso e mentiroso. O projeto não acaba com o controle externo”, afirmou Itajiba. “A lei não autoriza o Ministério Público a investigar a polícia. A resolução não pode substituir o que a lei veda.”

“This rhetoric is false and mendacious. The bill does not end external control,” Itajiba [sic] said. “The law does not authorize the Public Ministry to investigate the police. That resolution cannot replace what the law forbids.”

Itagiba often seems to call other people liars.

On the other hand, in the absence of any independent analysis of the contents of the bill, or its rationale — the number of the bill is not even given, so that one can go look it up — the man deserves the right to elaborate on this point.

After all, he got 38 votes in the committee.

Not one of whom is interviewed.

Three opponents quoted extensively. One defender quoted denying the validity of those criticism in colorful terms, without explanation.

Look, I am as suspicious and nervous about the Brazilian police as anyone, and would be shocked! shocked! if external controls were weakened rather than strengthened.

But there are also all these confusions about who has what Constitutional powers, as CartaCapital was pointing out recently, in an analysis of an “activist judiciary” that steps in to legislate from the bench when Congress is to busy learning what is tattooed on Monica Veloso’s posterior.

Just because it seems like slanted, “he said, she said” reporting on the side of the angels does not make it any less a case of slanted, “he said, he said” reporting.

CartaCapital editorializes against the measure as well — also interviewing Cosenzo — and also without filling me in on many of the details, although it does tell me this is a legislative decree, not a projeto de lei.

Which I think is a difference that makes a difference.

Cosenzo:

Unlike what Itagiba says, there is no provision in the constitution that prevents prosecutors from investigating, just as there is nothing that gives police the exclusive power to investigate. If prosecutors can task the police to investigate, or request information, why cannot it not accompany those investigations?

I cribbed that snippet from the print edition this week.

But at least CC does so in a section clearly dedicated to editorializing, labeled “our opinion about the events of the week.”

Not in the news hole.

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