Brazilian anti-corruption prosecutors and organizations raised their voice this weekend against President Michel Temer’s decision to grant pardon to an unprecedented number of people serving a prison sentence over corruption charges or money laundering this year.
Although granting pardons at Christmas time has been a tradition in Brazil, this year the conditions have been more unprecedentedly flexible than ever before, critics said.
In 2016, pardons were only granted to people condemned to a maximum 12 years in prison, if they had already served a quarter of the sentence and if they did not repeat the offense they were condemned for.
But the decree Temer signed last night did not impose a maximum prison sentence, while reducing by a fifth the sentences for prisoners who did not repeat the offense.
Anti-corruption prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who coordinated the operation known as Lava Jato against Brazil’s oil company Petrobras, called the grants “a giant Christmas fair for the corrupted” on Twitter.
“Practicing corruption and taking responsibility for just 20 percent of the consequences, that’s what one pays for the crime, because impunity rules,” he added.
The organization Transparency International also expressed “deep concern” over the decree, arguing it will foment “frustration” and will “demonstrate to the population that the corrupted and the powerful can often find ways of escaping justice, despite the seriousness of their crimes,” read the statement.
In response to the criticisms, Justice Minister Torquato Jardim admitted that Temer had a “more liberal vision” of criminal law, yet claiming that the grants had been “impersonal” and did not mean to favor imprisoned state officials more than others.