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Brazil: Judges and Prosecutors More Protected

(Aug. 3, 2012) Almost one year after a criminal judge was brutally murdered in Rio de Janeiro by a criminal organization, some of whose members were being prosecuted, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef promulgated Law No. 12,694 of July 24, 2012 (Lei No. 12.694, de 24 de Julho de 2012, PLANALTO.GOV.BR) to protect judges and prosecutors against possible retaliatory actions taken by organized crime.

Law No. 12,694 amends the Penal Code (Código Penal, Decreto-Lei No.2.848 de 7 de Dezembro de 1940), the Code of Criminal Procedure (Código de Processo Penal[C.P.P.], Decreto-Lei No. 3.689 de 3 de Outubro de 1941), the Brazilian Traffic Code (Código de Trânsito Brasileiro, Lei No. 9.503, de 23 de Dezembro de 1997) and Law No. 10,826 of December 22, 2003 (Lei No. 10.826, de 22 de Dezembro de 2003), which provides for the registration, possession, and sale of firearms and ammunition.

According to article 1 of the new Law, in processes or procedures established to prosecute crimes committed by criminal organizations, the judge may decide to create a panel of three judges to carry out any procedural act, and most notably to:

    • authorize the issuance of arrest warrants;
    • grant parole or revoke prison warrants;
    • deliver convictions;
    • decide whether to lengthen or shorten an imposed term of imprisonment;
    • grant conditional release (liberdade condicional); or
    • authorize the transfer of a prisoner to a maximum security prison. (Cerca de 400 juízes são ameaçados pelo crime organizado, diz AMB, O Globo (July 26, 2012).)

Article 2 of the Law defines a criminal organizations as an association of three or more people, structurally characterized by a division of labor, albeit informally, for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, an advantage of any nature, through the commission of crimes that carry a maximum punishment that is equal to or greater than four years in prison or that are transnational in character. (Id.)