Bolsonaro pardons police officers convicted of unintentional crimes

In a repetition of previous years, the president ignores the serious state of mass incarceration

In a repeat of previous years, the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, granted pardons on Christmas Eve to public security agents and Armed Forces personnel convicted of unintentional crimes when on duty.

The pardon is a prerogative of the President of the Republic that is conferred, but also limited, by the Constitution. Pardons are not permitted, for example, for people convicted of crimes of terrorism, torture, drug trafficking and similar acts considered heinous crimes.

They have traditionally been granted to prisoners in poor state of health, such as those who are blind, paraplegic and quadriplegic and who cannot continue to serve their sentence inside a prison. These rules were maintained in this pardon.

Over the years, important progress has been made in the use of the pardon, such as the application of rules for people convicted of small-scale drug trafficking – no longer considered a heinous crime by the Supreme Court – and for imprisoned mothers, people convicted of non-violent property crimes and women in general.

According to Marcos Fuchs, legal and finance director at Conectas, the president has once again ignored the serious mass incarceration problem in the country, neglecting to pardon offenses that could help correct injustices caused by the decay of the current prison system. This year’s pardon also does not cover fines and other consequences of convictions that further complicate the situation for people who have served their sentences and their reentry into society, as well as the future possibility of employment.

“We regret that this tool has been used to pardon public security agents and Armed Forces personnel given its potential to encourage the illegal use of force,” said Fuchs. “By decree, the president has in practice established immunity and granted a real ‘license to kill’, enabling perverse situations like the ones we witnessed in Rio de Janeiro in the Salgueiro and Jacarezinho favelas,” he added.

“Any sign from the public authorities of a lack of accountability for arbitrary killings will encourage the already increasing numbers of police lethality, as well as all other forms of institutional violence, and have a negative impact primarily on the lives of black youth from the poor urban outskirts, who are the main victims of State violence in Brazil. Those who are never forgiven by police lethality,” he concluded.

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