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Senate blocks fast track to end ‘privileged forum’

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Senators know they have a very hot potato at heir hands.  For that reason party leaders at the Upper House of Congress did not approve Tuesday (March 21) the ‘request for urgency’ to speed the parliamentarian track of the bill to modify the ‘foro privilegiado’.

The rules of the Senate are tortuous. They allow any matter to have a fast track since it is required by absolute majority of senators. Senator Randolfe Rodrigues  (Rede, State of Amapá) did his homework and got this majority, but he was not able to fulfill one other rule: get the OK of all party leaders. And the leaders said no, arguing that the theme is  too delicate and a in-depth discussiom is necessary.

If the fast track had been aproved, the Senate would begin discussions on Wednesday (22) of a proposal giving new wording to Article 102 of Brazil’s Constitution. That’s the one which defines ‘foro privilegiado’ ( a status given to congresspeople, the President and the Vice-President of the Republic, ministers and members of  the higher courts) stating that only the Federal Supreme Court has the authority of prosecuting them.

Instead, a proposal from the Senate’s vice-chairman Cássio Cunha Lima (PSDB-state of Paraiba) was approved defining a timetable that will begin with public hearings. Next, there will be sessions to discuss amendments and only then will be established the date for voting the matter.

As very recently observed journalist Joe Leahy, in an excellent article in the Financial Times “In spite of the potentially damaging evidence contained in the Odebrecht testimonies, analysts believe it could take years before those politicians implicated could face charges, much less be convicted”,

This was to be a supreme court with 11 judges to discuss difficult constitutional questions and not one that would have to deal with proof and all the elements that a criminal court requires and which the lower courts are better at dealing with,” said an academic source to Mr. Leahy.

Article (brazilmonitor.com)