Partial veto of anti-terrorism law

Dilma Rousseff removes crime of condoning terrorism from the bill, but keeps other points criticized by NGOs and social movements

Foto: Romerito Foto: Romerito

President Dilma Rousseff partially signed this Thursday, March 15, Law 13,260/16 (Bill 2016/2015, approved in February by Congress) that defines the crime of terrorism. The vetoes to the text, however, did not consider all the demands of social movements and organizations, which had called for a total veto on the grounds that the bill represented the “greatest political-criminal setback since redemocratization in 1998”. The descriptions of the offenses remain vague and overly broad, the sentences are disproportionate and the text still criminalizes so-called “preparatory acts”, paving the way for the arbitrary enforcement of the law.

  • Click here to read the text signed into law by the president in the Federal Gazette.

The definition of the crime of condoning terrorism was fully removed from the text. Article 4 had established a prison sentence of up to 13 years and four months for anyone encouraging or inciting, on the internet, a demonstration considered a terrorist act. The presidential vetoes also removed the clauses on acts against public and private property or computer systems that are not attacks on life (items II and III of article 2). She also vetoed the increased prison sentence in cases of environmental damage (article 8) – which could include, for example, graffiti – and the clause that extends prison sentences to anyone who harbors people that commit the crime of terrorism (paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 3).

Last week, Conectas and another 14 organizations published an analysis of the bill approved by Congress, identifying the main legal setbacks. “The vetoes correct some critical points of the text, but from the outset we have defended that this was a completely unnecessary law,” said Jessica Carvalho Morris, executive director of Conectas. “Not only are the crimes described in the law already included in the Criminal Code, but the sentences are extremely disproportionate.”

According to Morris, not even the “safeguard for social movements” represents any guarantee that the law will not be manipulated to intimidate and persecute organizations that protest for rights, since this provision in the text, if interpreted restrictively, does not cover preparatory acts and only applies after the start of legal proceedings.

The presidential vetoes will now be submitted to a vote in the Lower House of Congress, where they could be overturned.

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