Thursday, March 17, 2016

How it works in Brazil

The Brazilian government is currently mired in a massive corruption scandal which threatens to topple President Dilma Rousseff. Last week, it expanded, with police formally charging former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a money laundering investigation. So the current President immediately appointed him to a senior government position:

Former Brazilian president Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva has been named chief of staff in the government of Dilma Rousseff, as the embattled leader reshuffles her cabinet in a desperate attempt to stay in office.

The decision means that the former president, currently under criminal investigation for corruption and money-laundering, will not have to face any eventual trial in an ordinary criminal court. As a government minister, he will be entitled to the so-called “privileged forum” of a hearing in Brazil’s supreme court.

This is simply corrupt and wrong. There is no other way to describe it. Politicians accused of corruption should face justice, not be shielded. And Rousseff's actions clearly show that she is a co-conspirator, not an innocent party.

More broadly, the entire idea that government officials should be immune from criminal charges is basicly a standing encouragement to criminal behaviour. No modern state should provide such immunity, and those which do provide it should repeal it.