Already weighing on the shoulders of the new president of the Supreme Court, Ricardo Lewandowski, are the promises he made of more dialogue and engagement with civil society in the decisions of the court, particularly in cases involving human rights.
This Tuesday, Justice Lewandowski was urged by Conectas to prioritize issues that have historically been neglected by the justice system, such as the case of the prison system.
“Conectas hopes that the Supreme Court will break with the policy of mass incarceration adopted by the Brazilian Judiciary and prioritize measures that can reduce prison overcrowding in the country,” reads an excerpt of a letter sent to the justice.
The organization also reinforced the urgency for the court to hear a pending case on the constitutionality of the Drug Law, which criminalizes the possession of narcotics for personal consumption. As far as Conectas is concerned, this law has proven to be ineffective and has served as a means of punishing poor and black youths.
Click here to read the document in full.
Before filling the position left by Joaquim Barbosa, the new president had expressed an interest in stepping up dialogue between the Supreme Court and civil society – which was applauded by organizations that work with the justice system.
According to Rafael Custódio, coordinator of Justice at Conectas, the promise of openness is valid and welcome, but it conflicts with the recent decision of Lewandowski – taken while serving as interim president of the court – to suspend some important initiatives of the CNJ (National Justice Council), which now also comes under his presidency.
“Before taking over, the justice cancelled plans to regulate the process of appointing auxiliary judges in São Paulo and to suspend a judge from the state of Bahia who is being investigated in an administrative disciplinary case,” said Custódio. “This move contrasts with his discourse about the democratization of the Judiciary. Now, Lewandowski will have to prove that he can resist corporate interests.”
Conectas and the Supreme Court
Since 2004, Conectas has filed more than 45 amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court – the highest number by any Brazilian civil society organization. These briefs, provided for in the Constitution of 1988, allow independent opinions to inform and influence the decision of the justices on specific issues.
The organization believes that the Supreme Court has a leading role to play in the protection and exercise of human rights in Brazil and in making the Judiciary more responsive to society.
On previous occasions, Conectas and partner organizations have requested greater transparency in the choice of justices and greater predictability of the voting agenda. The selection of members of the highest court of law in Brazil is currently made by the Presidency and the Senate alone, with little or no input from civil society.
Click here to read our dossier on transparency in the Supreme Court.