Brazil Senate’s Secret Session Called Unconstitutional

Sign in BrasÀ­lia: What a Shame, Senators This Wednesday, September 12, in a session carried out behind closed doors, Brazilian senators absolved – by 40 votes against 35 – the president of the house, Mr. Renan Calheiros, accused of unethical behavior by the Senate Ethics Commission, which had also recommended his impeachment.

According to London-based human rights organization Article 19 the Brazilian senators' secret session for voting of senator's impeachment endangers credibility of Brazilian democratic institutions.

"Article 19 deeply regrets this episode, which stands in sharp contrast with the government's professed commitment to transparency and open government," said Dr. Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of Article 19. And she went on:

"Freedom of information is a cornerstone right, essential to democratic societies. Access to information constitutes also an international obligation assumed by the Brazilian government under international law. Urgent measures should be adopted by the Brazilian authorities to ensure that freedom of information becomes an institutional policy actively promoted and defended by all public bodies"

The Brazilian Constitution in its article 55 requires secrecy only for the ballot in impeachment cases, not for the entire session that debates impeachment. It is the Statute of the Senate that sets out the secrecy of these sessions.

Although secret ballots are not uncommon, Article 19 says that it strongly condemns the secrecy of the session that took place in the Brazilian.

According to them, this has violated not only international norms on openness and transparency, but also Brazil's own Constitution: Article 5 of the 1988 Constitution ensures the right of access to public information and Article 37 guarantees the principle of publicity applicable to every government act.

For Article 19, the decision to hold the session behind closed doors served only to create much unrest and an environment of suspicion.

Even the members of the other house of congress – the Câmara dos Deputados – were forbidden from entering the session. Thirteen Deputados filed an injunction before the Supreme Court and got authorization to be present at the session. They were barred at the door by security staff and were only allowed in after much discussion and some violence.

The Supreme Court provisional decision in the case was silent in relation to the constitutionality of the Senate's Statute article on closed sessions as regards the right of access to public information. The decision's justification was one of equality between the two houses. The final decision in the lawsuit is still pending and should rule on the illegality, or not, of the Statute.

Article 19 is a human rights organization that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.


  • Show Comments (9)

  • João da Silva

    forrest Brown
    And where are you exactly at this very moment? Your coordinates are required,if you need my comments 😉

    You enjoying the weather?

  • ch.c.

    To area22
    Did you not know that this same scam was already done at the vote buying scandal.

    The voting senators did even better : they absolved ALL (not only 1) senators found guilty by the investigators……in 1 SECRET vote !

    Quite surprising… are surprised.

    After all, this is just as usual, the Brazilian daily lifestyle.

    Toilet paper is more expensive in Brazil, than the paper used for your laws and constitution.

    And the Brazilian Surpreme Court of Injustice… not any better !!!!!
    The place where Injustice gets total impunity…legally…and with their blessing !

    Stupid questions, where do Brazilians investigators and justice stand with :
    – Palocci
    – the ambulances scandal
    – the files against Serra, and the source of the money, Bin Lula ordered to find the “truth” !
    – the INCRA and IBAMA officials and their high rankings officers involved in illegal smuggling practices.
    these are just a few….within many many many more, where the well cooked pizza was already digested !

  • forrest Brown

    there secret freedom of expression
    all the brasilian goverment is

    is a monkey shit fight at the zoo and the brasilian people are standing around the cage
    to watch and see whom they will realect next time

    about the asme as the USA

    brasil and the rest of the world stays the same and the US is going down hill as it is more important for the party to be incharge
    than to do what is right by the people

  • area22

    What a fuckup
    Now I understand why they constructed Brasilia in such a remote place … These “public servants” probably feel very safe there, and probably think that they can get away with anything and everything, including violating the Constitution.

    Seriously folks… As soon as I begin to think that Brazil can’t sink any deeper, as soon as I start saying to myself “great, we hit the fundo do poÀƒ§o, finally”, something like this happens and reminds me that the level of absurdity in Brazil has no absolutely no fucking real limits.

  • aes

    Woody Allen: A travesty of a mockery of a sham.
    Perhaps the press will follow the unconstitutionality issue as it is brought the Brazillian Supreme Court. Or perhaps the press is equally a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a press.

  • ch.c.

    Brazilian senators absolved ….the president of the house !!!!!
    Once more, the brazilians politicians absolved the politicians commiting ILLEGAL things !
    Better yet, but as usual……this was done in SECRET VOTES !!!!!

    Brazil is worse than a banana republic. In a banana republic, they dont even need a vote and even less a secret vote.

    Ohhhhh but in Brazil, a young woman who stole a tube of butter, deserves a 4 years jail term. True story.
    But she did not deserve to be absolved, openly or in a secret vote.

    Stupid question : what is your constitution and laws worth, if they are not applied….by those officials who voted for them ?
    As much or less than toilet paper ?

    Very sad that your corrupted to the root politicians are the guarantors that the Brazilians laws are NOT FOR THEM….WHEN THEY COMMIT ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES !!!

  • João da Silva

    [quote]This trial is a travesty. It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

    AES, I am kinda off lost with your Shakesperean English,if you will pardon me.Can we or not continue bestowing our confidence in Renan to Preside our Senate? Please do feel free to express your thoughts in Proteriate English (which I understand) 😉

  • aes

    This trial is a travesty. It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

  • me

    Pizza anyone?
    Business as usual…

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