Proposed Terrorism Law Worries Some Brazilians
Amid pressure from the Financial Action Task Force, an international group that deals with terrorism and other issues connected to international financing, Brazilian officials drafted a new bill. The proposed law was created to better define terrorism. While many agree that Brazil needs to both define and fight terrorism in the country, some feel the bill’s definition of terrorism is too broad. They also argue that terrorist activity was adequately covered by existing laws.
If the draft bill stays as it currently stands, protesters, including those who plan to protest at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, could be charged with terrorism if public or private property is destroyed during the course of the protests.
The bill was drafted by President Dilma Rousseff’s office. When it went through the lower house of Congress, provisions were added to make exceptions for social movements, such as protests. However, those exceptions were removed when the bill passed the Senate in a 34-18 vote.
Because violence and vandalism are often part of Brazilian protests, of special concern is the part of the bill where “vandalizing…or destroying…public transport or any public or private property” are considered terrorist activity. The bill could potentially allow courts to decide if protesters involved in activities resulting in vandalism or destroyed property will be considered terrorists.
The bill’s representative, Senator Aloysio Nunes, insists political protestors, those holding demonstrations for change, and others peacefully protesting will not be charged as terrorists. Others have their doubts.
Under the proposed law, those charged with committing a terrorist activity could face prison sentences of up to 24 years or up to 30 years if the act results in death or is directed at political leaders such as the president, vice president, members of Congress, or members of the Supreme Court.
While the bill carries heavy punishments for those accused of terrorist activity, some protesters have vowed not to back down. They will protest the bill, and even if it becomes a law, as is likely, they will continue to protest.