13:28, April 14 30 0 theguardian.com

2019-04-14 13:28:05
Lula, like all Brazilians, faced a fair trial

The letter (11 April) from a group of MPs and other political figures claiming that former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a “political prisoner” is not only offensive to a democratic country and its institutions, but also completely ignorant of the facts of the case.

In Brazil, the judiciary is fully independent and due process of law is faithfully observed. All defendants facing criminal prosecution fully enjoy the guarantee of a fair trial and the right to appeal many times against an unfavourable sentence. Lula’s case has already been analysed by different judges in different levels of jurisdiction. Any suggestion that his conviction – or that of any defendant in the Brazilian judicial system – could be politically motivated is absurd and disregards the high professionalism and independence of Brazil’s democratic institutions. It is worth remembering that many other high-level politicians across the whole political spectrum (including fierce adversaries of Lula), not to mention some of the wealthiest businessmen in the country, were also investigated, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

Furthermore, it is not correct to say that the UN human rights committee condemned Brazil. Rather, two (out of the 15) experts of the committee issued an “interim measure” on the subject. This measure was diligently considered by one of the highest courts in Brazil – the superior electoral tribunal – and was ultimately dismissed. Moreover, the views of the committee, while meriting thought and consideration by the state concerned, are not binding. The attempt by the committee to make its views seem mandatory is not supported by the text of optional protocol I to the ICCPR. The advisory nature of the committee’s views is recognised not only by Brazil, but by the large majority of countries that accept its opinions.

I truly regret that unfounded narratives fuelled by ideological solidarity take precedence over an objective assessment of the case. The result is a one-sided, ill-informed and condescending attack against a full-fledged democracy.

Fred Arruda

Ambassador of Brazil to the UK

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