Country Risk

Brazilian justice minister’s anti-crime package focuses on harsher punishment, but highly unlikely to tackle growing criminality

07 March 2019

On 21 February, Minister of Justice Sergio Moro presented to Congress his anti-crime package aimed at combating organised crime and corruption. The package focused on reforming 14 laws of the criminal code, including the right of citizens to self-defence, tougher prison sentences for criminals, and imprisonment for corruption-related crimes after a second appeal.

  • Two key issues relevant to tackling criminality in Brazil are absent from Moro’s proposals: intelligence support and police budget allocations. Moro used intelligence efficiently during the ‘Lavo Jato’ investigation and could have sought to replicate this for future policing given his responsibilities for the federal police as Minister of Justice. However, there is nothing in the package to suggest intelligence enhancement within the federal police or an increased intelligence budget. Moreover, there is no recognition that intelligence-led operations would probably have a more beneficial effect than relatively blunt military-led operations: the response to the Ceará attacks in January 2019, a series of arson and gun attacks across the state orchestrated by criminal gangs from inside prisons, is a case in point. Moro ordered the deployment of troops and the Forca Nacional (special federal police force) for a month, as did former president Temer in Rio Grande do Norte in 2017 and Santa Catarina.

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