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Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Decision on Clean Record Law

(Nov. 4, 2010) After five votes in favor and five votes against, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF – Supremo Tribunal Federal) decided to follow the decision issued by the Superior Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral) and, on October 27, 2010, determined that the Clean Record Law (Lei da Ficha Limpa) is applicable to the general elections of 2010. The Law is also applicable, the Court ruled, to cases in which the holder of an electoral mandate resigns in order to evade impeachment procedures and not be deprived of electoral rights, even if the resignation occurred before the Law entered into force.

The purpose of the Clean Record Law (Lei Complementar No. 435, de 4 de Junho de 2010) is to prevent politicians with criminal records or who are suspected of having committed crimes from participating in elections. The Law creates a mechanism to punish corrupt politicians as a substitute for the current Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI – Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito), which allowed the accused politician to escape punishment if he resigned before the investigation was initiated. Now, the politician, regardless of whether he is in office or not, may be investigated, prosecuted, and punished. (Apesar de Empate, STF Confirma Validade da Lei da Ficha Limpa, G1 ELEIÇÕES 2010 (Oct. 27, 2010),