In Supreme Court, organizations reject change of procedure for approving Provisional Executive Orders

Organizations defend the need for civil society participation in the legislative process

Conectas Human Rights, together with IDDD (Defense of the Right to a Defense
Institute), ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute) and the Alana Institute defended in the
Supreme Court this Wednesday, April 22, the need to guarantee civil society
participation in the legislative process of discussing provisional executive orders during
the ‘state of public calamity’ caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These orders may be issued by the Executive provided they address relevant and
urgent matters, and they have immediate legal effect. However, Congress must then
analyze and approve the orders within 120 days. If members of Congress do not vote
before the end of this deadline, the legislation loses validity.
In a request made to the Supreme Court, the federal government proposed suspending
the passage of provisional executive orders through Congress until the end of the
‘public calamity’. In practice, this would give the president greater powers to govern
and legislate without the participation and control of Congress and civil society.

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In response to the government’s request, the Lower House of Congress and the
Senate agreed to the establishment of a quicker procedure, by reducing the deadline
for approval. The new procedure excludes the stage of debating the orders in a Joint
Committee of Congress, leaving it up to each house to vote on them separately in a full
While acting as an amicus curiae in ADPF Case No. 663 (Allegation of Violation of a
Fundamental Precept) in the Supreme Court, Gabriel Sampaio, a coordinator at
Conectas Human Rights, criticized both the government’s request and the fast-track
approval established by the Lower House and the Senate, arguing that it represents an
“exclusion of civil society participation from the legislative process”.
“We defend (…) the legitimacy of the act of Congress to enable the exceptional
passage of provisional executive orders on account of the public calamity we are
experiencing due to the coronavirus,” said Sampaio. “But the new procedure,
established by an act of the two legislative houses, permits the passage of a
provisional executive order in up to 16 days of discussion and debate (…) In these 16
days of its passage, just two days are allocated for the presentation of amendments.
Passage in the Joint Committee is replaced with a report and a legal opinion in a full
session of the legislative houses,” he added. “But it is during the legislative procedure
in the Joint Committee that the fundamental role of civil society appears. This is when,
within the framework of representative democracy, civil society can participate and
democratically influence this debate and expand the material concept of democracy,”
he said.


Watch the oral statement in full

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