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Brazzil - Nation - January 2004

Brazilian Judge Explains Anti-US Measure

Since the first of the year, Americans arriving in São Paulo are
being photographed and fingerprinted. According to federal judge
Julier Sebastião da Siva who imposed the measure, this action
is in defense of the civil rights of Brazilians who will be submitted
to the same procedures when disembarking in the US.

Juliana Andrade


The identification and cataloguing of all American tourists who arrive in Brazil will not affect relations between Brazil and the United States, according to federal judge Julier Sebastião Silva, in an interview with the Agência Brasil.

It was he who made the determination that obliges Americans to be photographed and fingerprinted upon disembarking in Brazil. "The United States cannot treat Brazilians arbitrarily, branding them as terrorists with no evidence and, at the same time, exempt other countries, notably the rich countries," the judge emphasized.

Silva affirmed that the decision is based on the principle of reciprocity in international law. According to him, the measure is aimed at guaranteeing Brazilian citizens their civil rights, which, beginning this Monday, January 5, will also be submitted to strict rules of identification, when they land at American airports.

In addition to Brazil, citizens from other countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East will be photographed and fingerprinted at airports in the United States, as a security measure.

For judge Silva, Brazil should be excluded from the list formulated by American authorities. "Nothing more legitimate than Brazil's also availing itself of the international principle of reciprocity and doling out the same treatment to American citizens, as long as restrictions on Brazilians in American territory persist," he completed.

The Brazilian government may appeal the Federal Court's decision. But, in the judge's view, questioning the decision would be politically unpopular. Nevertheless, the press section of the Federal Attorney General's Office informed that the matter is being examined in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Relations and that, up to this point, no decision has been made about an eventual appeal.

Since January 1st, all US citizens arriving at the São Paulo International Airport, in Guarulhos, are being submitted to the new identification system adopted by the Federal Police (PF), in compliance with a judicial order emitted by Judge da Silva, of the First Federal Court of Mato Grosso state.

The measure constitutes a reciprocal action to the treatment received by Brazilians who disembark in the United States. That is, passengers must allow themselves to be photographed, as well as being fingerprinted. According to the Federal Police, 230 US citizens had already gone through the Guarulhos airport terminal in the second day after the start of the measure. Also according to the PF, the passengers' initial reaction is one of consternation, before the police officers explain that Brazilians are being submitted to the same procedures in American territory.

Juliana Andrade works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br

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