Organizations Denounce Intimidations During the Belo Monte Legal Process

Back to Resources
First published on
This resource has been tagged as a Press Release

Brazilian civil society organizations forwarded this Thursday (13) a complaint to the Special Rapporteur of the Human Council on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of the United Nations regarding the threats and pressures faced by the attorneys of Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutor’s office (MPF) and by a Federal Judge of the city of Altamira, Pará related to the auction of the Belo Monte dam. In April, the General Attornies Terre Cláudio do Amaral, Bruno Alexandre Gütschow, and Ubiratan Cazetta presented two public civil actions to suspend the auction outright. The Federal Judge Antonio Carlos Almeida Campelo admitted the civil actions that claimed the insufficient implementation of public hearings with indigenous people and affected communities and questioned the lack of data in the project’s environmental impact studies. In addition, they have filed a civil action for misconduct against the administrative official from IBAMA, which released the auction despite the lack of data in the studies.

In response to this action, the Solicitor General of the Union (AGU) has filed administrative proceedings against the federal prosecutors of the MPF . To the organizations, this demonstrates that the Executive has used the power of public agencies to intimidate those who have questioned the construction of Belo Monte dam.

In its complaint, the organizations assert that the judge and prosecutors were "publicly threatened, intimidated by intelligence agents, disavowed in their judicial functions, and represented to the disciplinary bodies of their institutions." The stance taken by the AGU is an affront to the principles of autonomy and independence of the judiciary and the prosecutors, as provided for by the 1988 Federal Constitution, and by the Charter of Principles for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, adopted by UN.

Intimidations – Back in February, AGU had warned that it would denounce the prosecutors to disciplinary bodies such as the National Justice Council (CNJ) and the National Council of Public Prosecution – CNMP. Through the press, AGU has intimidated the members of MPF that would "abuse their powers to prevent the construction of the dam" (State of São Paulo, 22/04).

The federal judge also suffered intimidation. The ABIN (Brazilian Intelligence Agency) has sought information on several occasions from the Chamber of Altamira regarding the content of the decision, what would be the day that the Judge would file the decision, and also to request copies of the decision by email, once they are publicly available on the Internet.

Another fact questioned in the complaint is the accumulation of managerial and jurisdiction functions by the president of the Federal Court, through a mechanism called "Suspension of court orders and sentences" (SLS). This instrument allows the president to suspend the Court injunctions and judgments against the government, and because of that, it was used by AGU to suspend the decisions about Belo Monte. The civil society organizations question the accumulation of two contradictory functions within the body of the president of the Court, which has the power to annul decisions contrary to the Executive power at the same time that it negotiates with them over the budget of the Court, thereby confounding the political relationship with the power to judge the government. Similarly, the organizations call attention to the complaint over the declaration of then-president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Gilmar Mendes, who at the time criticized the work of the prosecutors and the human rights organizations in an attempt to discredit the content of the lawsuits.

Based on these facts, the organizations request of the Special Rapporteur of UN to ask for an explanation from the Brazilian government about the case, and that they take actions to ensure the independence of the judicial decisions about Belo Monte dam. Furthermore, they ask the Rapporteur to forward recommendations to the Brazilian government to overturn the contradiction of the SLS mechanism.