Lula Conviction Further Undermines Democracy and Rule of Law in Brazil
Brussels, 25 January 2018 (ITUC OnLine): Trust in the rule of law in Brazil suffered a severe blow on Wednesday as an appeal court failed to provide former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva with a fair trial. The court ignored all evidence of Lula´s innocence and proceeded to uphold a sentence handed by a lower court, increasing it to more than 12 years.
Lula´s popularity and chances of winning this year´s presidential election is seen as a key factor in the appeal court´s decision.
“It has been impossible for Lula to receive a fair trial. The whole process from the very beginning has been a legal farce masquerading as justice. Lula’s basic human rights have been breached, all of his domestic legal remedies are closed and we are referring the actions and decision of this court to the United Nations Human Rights Committee”, said Lula´s lawyer, Cristiano Zanin Martins.
“This is clearly a politically motivated conviction - from the outset, President Lula had no chance of receiving a fair trial. The rule of law must be upheld in Brazil, and the only way to do so is to ensure that fair and democratic elections are held later in the year,” said UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings. “In the past few years, we have seen a closing of democratic spaces in Latin America – to arrest this worrying trend, President Lula must be allowed to run for office in the next election.”
Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas said, “It’s a slight on Brazilian democracy that the man who brought 36 million people out of poverty can be subjected to a rigged trial. President Lula is faced with a corrupt elite who do not represent the Brazilian people’s interests – we must make sure that they are not allowed to destroy his reputation, remove his influence and bar him from standing in free elections.”
“We have seen how Brazil´s executive and legislative branches have lost trust and legitimacy, with the coup against Dilma Rousseff, a President elected by the people. Now the rule of law has been severely undermined from within the judiciary itself,” said ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow.
Lula´s ratings in polls have risen in recent months in the same proportion as the attacks of his opponents in the media, controlled in Brazil by a handful of wealthy oligarchs. On Wednesday, one of the largest TV stations announced the verdict hours before the judges even pronounced their sentence.
Appeal court judge Pedro Gebran – a family friend of the controversial and discredited lower court magistrate Sergio Moro who originally sentenced Lula – stated that it was his “personal conviction” that the accusations against Lula were true, despite the lack of actual evidence.
The trade union movement in Brazil has united in support of Lula and pledged to keep mobilised and fight for the democracy in the streets. During the trial, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians protested across the country against the partiality of the judges and in support of Lula.
This week, people across the world were invited to join the global call to stand up for democracy in Brazil: www.standwithlula.org/en