By Guilherme Torrentes (Master in Human Rights from the University of Minho)
On January 1, 2023, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as President of Brazil for the third time, after one of the fiercest electoral disputes since the re-democratization of the country (which occurred in 1985), in which Lula da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro. It is perhaps the end of a cycle of “lawfare” – a term that can be defined as the strategic use of law for the purpose of delegitimizing, harming, or annihilating an enemy – that is, the perverse use of legal rules and procedures for the purpose of political persecution. This cycle of lawfare was initiated in a tentative way by what became known as “Mensalão” (a “mega” or “maxi” judicial process that culminated in the conviction of several political members of Lula’s first government for corruption) and worsened with the impeachment process of President Dilma Roussef and “Operação Lava Jato” (another “mega” judicial process that culminated in the illegal imprisonment of Lula for 580 days).
This cycle of lawfare has jeopardized the continuity of the democratic rule of law, as the Brazilian judiciary and criminal process have been instrumentalized by the exception and subjectivity undesirable to its performance, in order to achieve the desired political ends. It is worth noting that in 2018, the Brazilian State failed to comply with a recommendation of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee to guarantee Lula the right to run for the presidential elections of that year, invoking its domestic laws to not apply Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which guarantees every citizen the right and the opportunity, without unreasonable restrictions, to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors).Continue reading “Lula da Silva is President of Brazil once again: are we closing a cycle of lawfare?”