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Urgent Action - Moro's Anti-Crime Bill

Sergio Moro has proposed a new anti-crime bill. The proposed legislation to reform the penal system promotes actions that would increase the mass incarceration and genocide of the Black population of Brazil. For example, it imports the plea bargaining system from the United States that allows an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant. This system makes those who don't have resources to defend themselves (Black and poor people) accept the agreement even when not guilty, fearing the possibility of being charged for a more serious crime. In addition, it changes the definition of legitimate defense. Previously, legitimate defense was described as repelling a violent action. With the new proposed legislation, it is considered a legitimate defense when a police officer shoots to prevent something. In other words, the police are encouraged to shoot first, without any proven or visible attack, to prevent the other person’s possible action. In addition, the proposed law allows for police officers to shoot civilians if they are threatened, surprised, or under the influence of “strong emotions.”  
 
More than 50 organizations of the Brazilian Black movement have formed a coalition to stop this proposed legisliation. They denounced it in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (https://www.almapreta.com/editorias/realidade/movimento-negro-denuncia-pacote-anticrime-de-moro-na-comissao-interamericana-de-direitos-humanos) and in the Brazilian Congress (https://almapreta.com/editorias/realidade/presidente-do-senado-firma-compromisso-com-o-movimento-negro-contra-o-pacote-de-sergio-moro). David Alcolumbre, President of the Senate, previously promised that the project would not be voted without a broad dialogue with civil society and specialists on the topic, especially Black jurists. However, we have received the news that the report about the proposed law has been written, and it may be on the agenda of the Senate this week. For this reason, we ask that you sign the following letter, to the President of the Senate, endorsing the request of Black organizations for public hearings and other forms of dialogue with civil society before the proposed legislation is voted on in the Senate. 
 
Please, send your name and organization to <jgoes@umass.eduas soon as possible to sign the document. Our goal is to send the letter on Monday, if possible.
The Honorable
Davi Alcolumbre
President of the Brazilian Senate
 
Subject: Endorsement of a request for public hearings about Proposed Law 1864/2019
 
Dear Senator Alcolumbre,
 
The proposed law, known as the Anticrime Package, (PLS 1864/2019) has concerned everyone interested in improving Brazilian public security. Of the astonishing 60,000 annual murders in Brazil, more than 70% of the victims are Black. In other words, the Black population is the main victim of violence. Nevertheless, the project ignores this data, presenting proposals that increase the violence against this sector of Brazilian society.
 
Despite its name, the proposed law doesn’t include any provisions to reduce or prevent criminality. It is focused on punitive measures, increasing the use of the penal system and facilitating violence by state agents against civilians. Researchers have shown that these measures not only target poor and Black people but also are inefficient in promoting security. Moreover, some of the measures proposed have failed in other countries, such “plea bargaining” in the United States.
 
Considering this, the news about your commitment to guaranteeing a thorough debate with the public, as well as specialists on the topic, expressed in a meeting with representatives of the Black movement, was received positively. Confident that this commitment will be fulfilled, we endorse the request, made by several Black organizations, that the Senate hold public hearings to debate the proposed legislation, while also creating another venue for discussion about the legislation in addition to the Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ). This could be a subcommittee within the CCJ or a Special Committee of Jurists, with the participation of the public, especially Black legal scholars and experts in the field.  
 
Violence is, without question, one of the more urgent issues facing Brazil at the moment. Nevertheless, it would be unfortunate to enact legislation that would implement measures that have proven ineffective nationality and internationality and would end up criminalizing the sector of the population that is the main victim of violence.

Sincerely, 
U.S Network for Democracy in Brazil
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