An analysis carried out by specialists from the NGO Terra de Direitos concluded that the Bolsonaro government’s proposal that deals with crimes of terrorism violates constitutional norms and violates international agreements already endorsed by Brazil. Provided for in Bill (PL) 1595/2019, the measure is currently being processed in the Chamber of Deputies, where it is being discussed in a special commission and can be voted on in the second half of September.
Defended by more conservative parliamentarians and linked to the so-called “bullet bench”, the PL stipulates actions to be taken by the State to deal with possible terrorist acts in the country. The text was authored by deputy Major Victor Hugo (GO), former leader of the government in the Chamber and current leader of the PSL bench, acronym for the extreme right that elected president Jair Bolsonaro (no party).
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In the foreground, specialists from Terra de Direitos argue that the legal apparatus already represented in the Anti-Terrorism Law (No. 13.260/2016) makes the approval of other legislation on the subject unnecessary. This is what the NGO’s coordinator of political influence, Gisele Barbieri, maintains.
She recalls that the 2016 norm has a strong repressive character and opened space for the restriction of freedoms, especially the right to demonstrate, a characteristic that was insistently pointed out by specialists with a guaranteeist profile during the processing of the text that resulted in the legislation.
“The 2016 law was already wrong and, at the time, organizations were involved with concerns that continue to this day because, at that time, we managed to remove some things from the text, but all the PLs that were presented after seeking changes in this law try reinsert the issues that had been excluded”, he emphasizes, signaling that the entity also considers the assessment of PL 1595 inopportune.
The NGO’s technical note points out that a survey in the report of the National Bank of Arrest Warrants (BNMP) and in the National Public Security Data shows that there have been only “two events of operations linked to the Terrorism Law” in the country since the approval of the standard .
“And none of them can be rigorously characterized as effectively planning an ongoing terrorist act. In the data listed in the BNMP report, among the most common types found in the prison system until August 2018, for example, which account for 97.21% of all crimes imputed to persons deprived of liberty, the Anti-Terrorism Law is not even cited”, underlines the document.
“We understand that the crime of terrorism is very serious and really needs to be foreseen in legislation. The problem is to assume that we have no record of this type of crime in Brazil, that we have this law from 2016 and until today an analysis has not been carried out on whether it is effective or not to fight terrorism in the way they do they wait, and then you propose a law that is worse than the approved law”, he assesses.
For the NGO, the text would also be vague in terms of the concept of the practice of terrorism. The problem has been pointed out by opposition lawmakers since the arrival of the Bill in the Chamber of Deputies, in 2019.
In the specialists’ view, this leaves room for eventual maneuvers of an ideological nature that may wrongly frame popular segments that act in the social struggle in the definition of terrorism. The eventual occurrence of this would characterize, for Terra de Direitos, an undue criminalization of these groups, facilitating political persecution.
The NGO highlights, for example, that the concern with this risk is also based on statements already made by the author of the proposal. During a public hearing in the Chamber on the 12th of this month, Major Vitor Hugo nodded in this regard.
“I even appeal to the rapporteur for us to move forward, yes, in the concept, modification and improvement of the concept of terrorism because Law 13.260 left some gaps that need to be overcome, such as, for example, there is no political motivation for a crime to be terrorism in Brazil”, said the congressman at the time.
Among other things, PL 1595 says, for example, that the norm “will also be applied to prevent and repress the execution of an act that, although not typified as a terrorist crime, is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive in relation to any critical infrastructure, essential public service or key resource”.
“[Isso] he leaves [espaço] to interpret the authority of the Justice system, and then each one interprets in their own way, which is what we have seen now with the application of the National Security Law, for example. Are several cases that were included in it what is provided for in the law? They may be, but the law is so vague that it makes any authority interpret it as a crime against the state,” argues Gisele Barbieri.
The NGO’s technical note also states that the conceptual gap confronts the elementary principles of criminal law and clashes with the jurisprudence of the country’s higher courts. This is because the interpretation of the crime of terrorism is based on the idea that the action is carried out for reasons of xenophobia, discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity and religion.
Another concern pointed out in the NGO’s analysis is the fact that the PL authorizes, also vaguely, the adoption of counter-terrorist techniques in an act that “is dangerous to human life”, among other things.
“The bill also contradicts the understanding adopted by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, according to which the means used in a terrorist act must be potentially lethal, the intention of the act must be to cause fear to the population or to oblige the government or international organization to do or leave of doing something and the objective must promote an ideological objective”, points out the organization’s note.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla