By Madeline Asta
On Tuesday August 8, Brazilian President Michel Temer asked the Supreme Court (STF) to remove the country’s Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot from power. The decision to remove Janot comes after an August 2 congressional vote to drop passive corruption charges filed by Janot against Temer in June. As Attorney General, Janot established a precedent of convicting high-level politicians for corruption throughout Operação Lava Jato, a set of investigations aimed to fight organized crime within Brazilian politics. Since Operação Lava Jato began in 2014, the investigations have uncovered sweeping political corruption across both political parties and neighboring countries in the Latin American region. However, Temer sees Janot’s charges against him to be attacks founded on personal motivation. Temer claims that Janot is acting “beyond his constitutional limits”, as the attorney general pursues obstruction of justice charges against Temer. Fearing that pending charges will unearth more concrete evidence of corruption, Temer moves to dismiss Janot from the investigations and ensure himself immunity. Riding a wave of confidence following the congressional vote, Temer hopes to solidify his political power by launching a counterattack against the nation’s top prosecutor to destroy his reputation.
By Madeline Asta
During the week of July 17, Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot visited Washington D.C. to discuss Brazil’s current fight against corruption. While in Washington D.C., Janot gave two presentations, one at the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute titled “The Role of Plea Bargains in the Fight Against Corruption,” and a second at the Atlantic Council titled “Lessons from Brazil: Crisis, Corruption, and Cooperation.” At these events, Janot highlighted the evolution of Brazil’s judicial system to where it is today – convicting high-level officials of corruption, both nationally and internationally with transnational cooperation. The following case study of Brazil’s judicial system takes information from these two events, as well as from past presentations of Brazilian judicial officials hosted by the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute.
The Evolution of Brazil’s Judicial System
Brazil’s judicial system has evolved from a system that only persecuted black people, poor people, and prostitutes to one determined to conquer the “white-collar” corruption that plagues Brazilian politics. Historically, high-society citizens were immune to the judiciary, but now the system has changed to include investigations into more influential people, specifically high-ranking government officials. The basic structure of Brazil’s judiciary was first established by the 1988 Constitution, which created a high court for federal legislation – the Superior Court of Justice, or TSJ. In addition, the constitution modified the Public Prosecutor’s Office to be an autonomous institution meant to preside over criminal proceedings.