Lower House of Congress approves “ANTI-CRIME” bill without exemption from illegality clause
Text approved by the full session of the house contains serious points, such as restrictions on bail and sentence progression
Bill presented by the Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro, excluded some of the
controversial points from the original proposal (Photo: Agência Brasil)
By 408 votes to nine and two abstentions, the Lower House of Congress approved on
the evening of Wednesday, December 4, the so-called “anti-crime” bill, a series of
amendments to criminal and procedural law presented by the Minister of Justice,
The exemption from illegality clause – one of the most controversial points of the
original bill that, in practice, would exempt police officers from liability for crimes
committed in the line of duty and that has been described by academics and organized
civil society as a license to kill – was removed from the bill.
Other serious points from the proposal originally submitted by Moro were also
quashed, such as the plea bargain – which would have enabled prison sentences to be
enforced after agreements between defendants and the Public Prosecutor’s Office –
and the legal figure of habitual offender, which would have restricted the right to a fair
trial and made it harder to release people who are considered – not particularly
objectively – to be “career criminals”. Imprisonment after loss of first appeal, already
deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, was also not approved.
The bill approved by the full session of the Lower House of Congress, however, still
contains some points considered by civil society as setbacks with regard to rights and
guarantees and that will have a particularly heavy impact on the prison system and on
criminal procedure. These include the restrictions on bail, lengthier sentence
progression and restrictions on the right of prisoners to receive visits and have contact
with their families. The bill also permits immediate incarceration after a conviction
exceeding 15 years imprisonment by a jury trial and an increase in maximum sentences
from 30 to 40 years.
“What has become known as the ‘anti-crime’ package is nothing more than a set of
amendments that restrict criminal rights and guarantees and that do nothing to
address the key problems of public security and the criminal justice system,” said
Gabriel Sampaio, coordinator of the program to combat institutional violence at
Conectas. “It is important to note that the removal of points we consider very serious,
such as the exemption from illegality clause, was the result of intense mobilization by
civil society, and that the bill still has a long passage through the Senate,” he added.
According to Sampaio, the approved bill will now proceed to the Senate, where a
package of measures similar to the one proposed by Moro in the lower house is
already pending. Therefore, topics such as the exemption from illegality clause need to
remain in the spotlight of debate.
“We still do not know how the Senate will receive the text approved in the lower
house and how it will handle the passage of the two similar bills. Therefore, it is time
for civil society to keep up its intense mobilization,” he concluded.