After Third WhatsApp Shutdown, Brazil Plans to Draft Digital Data Bill

Fortune/Reuters, 07/20/2016

The Brazilian government plans to draft a bill regulating judicial access to digital data in criminal investigations, following the third nationwide court-mandated shutdown of the popular WhatsApp messaging service since December, newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported Wednesday.

According to Estado, Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said the bill should provide a framework for cooperation with authorities without depriving about 100 million users of the popular Facebook FB 1.21% messaging service.

Moraes announced the plan after meeting with Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house, to discuss the issue Tuesday, Estado said.

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WhatsApp in Brazil back in action after suspension

BBC, 07/20/16

The WhatsApp messaging service in Brazil is operating again after it was temporarily suspended for failing to hand over information requested in a criminal investigation.

The third suspension in two years lasted for a few hours, affecting some 100 million users.

But Supreme Court judge Ricardo Lewandowski later lifted the nationwide blockage, calling it disproportionate.

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Supreme Court Justice defends political reform in Brazil at event in Washington DC

Henrique Gomez Batista – Globo, 07/06/2016

Justice Dias Toffoli, from Brazil’s Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal), stated this Wednesday morning, during a presentation at the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute that he believes that the “Car Wash Operation” investigation is doing a good job. When questioned on his opinion of Judge Sergio Moro, responsible for the “Car Wash” investigation in Curitiba, Toffoli repeated his opinion and stated that whileMoro has done a “good job” he is not responsible for the “judicial transformation in Brazil”.

He stated  “It is not the one judge changing the history of Brazil, but rather civil society in general”

Justice Toffoli reminded the audience that the  “Car Wash Operation” has come this far due to prior modifications of the constitution, which were approved by many politicians who are being investigated, such as the law that allows the use of plea bargains. Toffoli also emphasized that these changes started under Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government.  It was during Cardoso’s government that the law of Fiscal Responsibility was instituted which gives the Public Ministry the transparency and liberty to elect the new Attorney General of the Republic.

“Obviously, there is also the Mensalão case, which saw big name politicians and business executives become indicted, giving further legitimacy to the rule of law,” he said.

Toffoli also defended the habeas corpus that some Justices granted during the Car Wash investigation by saying that it is a normal part of the legal process. Toffoli also defended a legal reform to end the “coalition presidentialism”, by emphasizing that the best thing for the country would be to adopt the district vote in the Chamber of Deputies, as opposed to the current proportional system implemented in the country.

Original Article (Portuguese) can be found here…

Translated into English By Julia Fonteles and Therese Kuester

Minister of the Supreme Court orders the release of Paulo Bernardo, former Minister of PT who was in prison for the past six day

Bela Megale, Mario Cesar Carvalho,  Márcio Falcão & Leandro Colon – Folha de S.Paulo, 06/29/16

The Supreme Court Minister, Dias Toffoli decided on Wednesday (June 29) to release the former Minister Paulo Bernardo, detained in the Operation Custo Brasil (Cost Brazil), an investigation into the illicit activity of the Ministry of Planning. He was arrested and imprisoned Thursday, June 23.

Toffoli said that there is no part of the process that justifies the order for preventive arrest. There is no indication that Paulo Bernardo will flee the country, or a risk of his interference in the investigations, thereby granting him the right to house arrest.

The Minister determined that the São Paulo Judicial System, which is responsible for the current operation, reevaluate the necessity to apply cautionary measures. After Toffoli’s decision, judge Paulo Bueno de Azevedo decided that Bernardo would spend the duration of his trial under house arrest, he will have to attend a judicial session every fifteen days, cannot contact others who are being investigated or occupy public office. He will also have to hand in his passport to the police.

Paulo Bernardo’s release should happen during the next few hours, after the notification from Azevedo.

In his decision, the Minister criticized the use of preventive imprisonment, which represents the anticipation of punishment and cited the case of the Mensalão, the worker’s party first major political scandal, as an example.

“Not even in the in case 470, colloquially known as the Mensalão case and conducted by the former minister, Joaquim Barbosa, was there a decree for preventive prisons. In mensalão, all the defendants were charged guilty and have completed or are in the process of completing their sentence,” said Toffoli.

Toffoli also affirmed that this was an “illegal embarrassment, correctable through habeas corpus.” “There is no need to add that the order for the defendant’s preventative imprisonment it needed to be verified by the Supreme Court, which, in this case, cannot be substituted,” he added.

The Minister affirmed that the judicial decision to arrest Paulo Bernardo, “does not indicate one sole factual element” which proves he could jeopardize the investigation.

“The judge’s first hand decision is fragilely based, in the common conjecture that the accuser, given his position as former Minister and his connections with other people and companies who are also being investigated in this operation, could possibly interfere in the production of evidence, but does not indicate a sole factual element that could sustain these connections,” he said.

The Minster partially responded to an appeal made by Paulo Bernardo’s lawyer to the Supreme Court, which questioned that legality in the action determined by the judicial branch from São Paulo. The appeal signed by the defendants, Juliano Breda, Rodrigo Mudrovitsch and Verônica Sterman supported the argument that the São Paulo’s court hindered the legislation by conducting investigative speculation linked to Senator Gleisi Hoffman(PT- PR)., who must be overseen by the Supreme Court, given the constitutional immunity.

The defendant’s ask for an annulment of the action involving Paulo Bernarndo in São Paulo and requested that his case were to be conducted by the Supreme Court, since many of the related evidence are similar to ones involving his wife, the senator Gleisi Hoffman (PT-PR).

Toffoli did not identify indices of usurpation from the Sao Paulo Judicial Court in the case that justifies a change in courts from federal to national.

The minister said that the Supreme Court has already identified the Consist Company’s role  and has proceeded, at first hand, to the suspects who do not have constitutional immunity, which is the case with Paulo Bernardo.

“The arrest was absolutely illegal and profoundly unfair. The decision strictly followed the constitution and its Supreme Court precedents,” said Juliano Breda to Folha.

In a statement, Bernardo’s lawyers confirmed that the decision “deconstructed all of the foundations for Paulo Bernardo’s arrest. It became clear that the foundations were vague and that the legal requisites and constitutional were not present”.

Gleisi commended the release of the former minister during a session of the Impeachment commission stating that “This is essential for me because there were no grounds to justify his arrest. We never refused to collaborate with the investigations,” she said. “I want to express my condolences about this case. In this country, we condemn before acquiring proof and information,” she emphasized.

The former minister in Lula and Dilma governments, Paulo Bernardo was arrested this past Thursday (23) in the Operation Custo Brasil (Brazil Cost), an extension of the Car Wash (Lava Jato). The politician from the worker’s party (PT) is accused of being a major beneficiary from the contractors’ kickbacks in the Ministry of Planning from 2010 until 2015.

Toffoli was the Worker’s Party lawyer during former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s campaign in 2002 and 2006. He was nominated Supreme Court Minister in 2009 and was seen as a close friend to the party, but has kept his distance from the party ever since Dilma was elected. Today, he tends to align opinions with his Minister colleague, Gilmar Mendes, the Worker’s Party greatest opposition inside the Supreme Court.

A former Minister during the governments of Lula and Dilma, Paulo Bernardo was arrested last Thursday the 23rd as part of the investigations into the irregularities in the Ministry of Planning. Bernardo, a member of the Worker’s Party, has been accused of benefiting from bribes paid to the Ministry of Planning between 2010 to 2015.

Investigators from the Police and the Public Ministry estimate that about 100 million reais were sent from software company Consist, responsible for the administration of cosigned credits  to the Ministry of Planning as kickbacks.

The company received almost one Real for every loan payment whose actual value was 0.30 Reals. According to investigators, Paulo Bernardo and the Worker’s Party were part of those who received the surplus money.

Bernardo denies the accusation that he personally acquired  seven million reals in kickbacks.

Paulo Bueno de Azevedo, the judge who ruled that Bernardo should be in prison, defends his decision saying that “it was necessary to maintain public order, punish criminal action and aid in the application of the law”.

This past Wednesday, Judge Azevedo sent a statement to the Supreme Court that he was not informed by the Federal Police nor the Public Ministry that the detainment of the former minister had occurred in the office of his wife, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.

The Senator is not the target of this investigation; however, she is now being investigated by the Supreme Court due to her husband’s involvement. According to investigators, information from Bernardo’s case should be used in her eventual investigation.

Azevedo defended the legality of his decision and said that Gleisi’s office does not have a privileged protection from judicial operations, therefore, would not require the former authorization from the Supreme Court to search the office.

The judge clarified that she had never been investigated or the target of the action for his arrest and that Bernardo clarified once arrested that the majority of his time was spent at his own residency in Brasilia.

The information from the judge’s ruling was sent to minister of the Supreme Court Celso de Mellos who asked for a clarification after the Senate examined the legality of an intrusion into the office of Gleisi without specific authorization by the Supreme Court.

The Senate argued that because Gleisi’s office is owned by the House, it is therefore given immunity in the face of legal action. Only the Supreme Court can give the permission for action to be taken in such.

The judge continued to defend his decision stating that “Although the House owns the office, it is still public property and as such there exists no legal restrictions on search and detainment in such. Unlike the Senator, the apartment does not have immunity to judicial action”.

Read the Original Article in Portuguese…

Translation By The Brazil Institute (Julia Fonteles & Therese Kuester)

 

Brazil’s Suspended President Dilma In It To Win It, But Probably Won’t

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 05/22/2016

Brazil’s recently suspended two-term president, Dilma Rousseff, told Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept on Thursday that she was going to fight impeachment until the bitter end. That end will most likely result in her being removed of her political rights for 10 years.

No date has been set for the Senate hearing on her impeachment. But when that day comes, she will have just 20 days to defend herself. The Senate will then have a maximum of 180 days to vote whether or not to officially remove Dilma from office. It’s not looking good. Supporters, who have seemingly come out of the woodwork in the days leading up to her impeachment in the lower house and even more so since her unpopular vice president Michel Temer took over, will be in for a harsh reality check. Warning: this story does not have a happy ending.

In the interview for The Intercept, Workers’ Party president Dilma reiterated that she would not resign and that she had some judicial recourse. She could, in theory, challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. But considering the fact that Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski will oversee the Senate trial, her argument would only be won if the Supreme Court ruled against their own chief. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. She also failed to get an injunction to block the Senate vote and, worth nothing, over half the judges on the bench were appointed by her party.

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With her job on the line, Brazil’s Rousseff has cleared out her office

Lisandra Paradguassu – Reuters, 05/10/2016

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has packed up personal photos and stripped the shelves in her third-floor office in the Planalto presidential palace – a sign she may be resigned to losing her job in a Senate vote on Wednesday.

In what could be one of her final meetings as president, Rousseff received the secretary general of the Organization of American States on Tuesday, as guards tried to stop photographers from documenting signs of an impending move.

Though government lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to stop the Senate vote, an aide said privately the leftist Rousseff expects to receive official notice on Thursday of her suspension on charges of violating budget laws.

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Understanding the political crisis in Brazil

Lisa Desjardins, Paulo Sotero, Uri Friedman, Monica de Bolle and Brian Winter – NPR, 05/03/16

Last month in Brazil, the lower house of the country’s National Congress voted to impeach the president, Dilma Rousseff. There are the legal grounds for the move — alleged cooking of the government books. And then there are the political motives, which as many observers have pointed out, are what’s really driving the impeachment. Those have to do with a massive corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state owned oil company. Add to that a severe recession, and many Brazilians are not happy with how their country is being run. Guest host Lisa Desjardins gets an update on the political crisis in Brazil from our panel of guests.

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Brazilian judge lifts roadblock to Lula appointment — but fight far from over

Marilia Brocchetto and Greg Botelho – CNN, 03/18/2016

A judge’s injunction barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from becoming chief of staff to the South American nation’s current leader has been overturned — the latest, but hardly last twist in Brazil’s spiraling political crisis.

The decision by Judge Candido Ribeiro, the head of the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region in Brasilia, reversed an injunction issued earlier by another federal judge, Itagiba Catta Preta Neto, according to a statement issued late Thursday by Brazil’s federal courts.

But none of this represents the final word on whether the once wildly popular Brazilian leader known as Lula will have a new job — and new protections in a corruption investigation — in the Cabinet of current President Dilma Rousseff.

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Brazil’s Top Court Suspends Impeachment of Rousseff

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 12/09/2015

Brazil’s Supreme Court suspended impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff until it rules on the validity of a secret ballot that stacked a congressional committee with opponents seeking to oust the leftist leader.

The ruling provided respite for Rousseff as she struggles to survive splits in her ruling coalition and fend off the effort to unseat her. She is also dealing with a severe recession and a widening corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras that has implicated many of her allies.

Rousseff is not under investigation in the kickback scandal. But her former point man in the Senate, Delcidio Amaral, who is in jail awaiting trial on charges of obstructing the Petrobras probe, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. That could lead to new disclosures involving her ruling Workers’ Party (PT).

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Brazil Supreme Court debates decriminalization of drugs

ABC News, 08/19/2015

Brazil’s Supreme Court on Wednesday began debating a drug case that could lead to the decriminalization of possession for personal use in the South American country.

In 2009, an inmate in a Sao Paulo prison was caught with three grams of marijuana. The crime of drug possession was tacked on to his criminal record that included robbery, sale of stolen goods and illegal possession of a gun. Two years, later the public defender’s office in Sao Paulo state filed an appeal on his behalf arguing that the inclusion of drug possession was unconstitutional because it violated the constitutional right to privacy.

The Supreme Court’s 11 justices began discussing the case Wednesday. After about three hours, Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski adjourned the session and said debate would be resumed Thursday. A final ruling is not expected for several days.

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