One of Brazil’s foreign policy priorities for the year, the election of a judge to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights comes up against an obstacle course. The first: the fact that the country has President Jair Bolsonaro as its president.
Analysts and diplomats interviewed by Folha believe the continent’s resistance to the Bolsonaro government could undermine the goal of electing lawyer Rodrigo Mudrovitsch, 35, for one of four vacancies that will be opened in the corps at the end of this year. The election is expected to take place in the second half of the year, with no date yet set.
Based in San José, Costa Rica, the Court constitutes the inter-American human rights system, with 24 member countries. There are seven judges, who serve a six-year term, with the right to renewal.
In the court’s 42 years of operation, Brazil has only had two magistrates, and since 2018, when Judge Roberto Caldas resigned after being accused of domestic violence, he has not had a representative.
In recent years, the Court has broadened its role to consider social issues within the framework of human rights. Their decisions must be followed by governments that accept their jurisdiction, like Brazil.
Experts in the field of international law and diplomats say Brazil’s recent interest in the court is also due to the possibility that the Bolsonaro government’s action in the fight against the pandemic could be brought to the body.
For this, representation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would be necessary, which functions as a sort of prosecutor.
Judgment would relate to government actions, not individually by Bolsonaro or the authorities, and punishment may include financial reparations and admission of guilt by the state.
Although the judges of the country concerned do not participate in the deliberations, the presence of a member in court could be a means of indirectly influencing the decisions.
Mudrovitsch was nominated as a candidate by the Brazilian government in December last year.
Well connected, it has received the support of several entities in the legal field, the OAB and the Senate. Among his credentials is the post of executive secretary of a commission of jurists created to draft a bill that systematizes the rules of the constitutional process.
“It is an excellent framework for national law, with experience and full conditions to exercise with sensitivity, firmness and independence the extremely important role of judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights”, declared the president of OAB, Felipe Santa Cruz.
At STF, he defended the accused of Lava Jato and human rights issues. He is also close to Minister Gilmar Mendes, of the STF, who tends to be very influential in the choice of key positions in the bodies of the legal world. He was guided by him in his master’s degree and teaches at the IDP (Institute of Public Law), founded by Gilmar. Wanted, Mudrovitsch declined to comment on this report.
The lawyer was presented to ambassadors of Latin American countries with the right to vote at a meeting in March by then Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo.
On this occasion, Ernesto made it clear that the Foreign Ministry had criticisms of the way in which the human rights issue is currently being approached by the court.
“The inter-American human rights system faces serious challenges. We can compare it to a beautiful building that was partly occupied and used for purposes other than those which guided its constitution, ”he said.
According to the chancellor at the time, fundamental points such as the right to life, freedom of expression and to live in democracy give rise to “ideological orientations masked as human rights”. It was a veiled reference to new themes, such as minority rights and gender issues, rejected by the Bolsonaro government.
In a message to Mudrovitsch, sitting next to him, Ernesto asked the court judges to revert to the original design of the theme.
During the event, the candidate opted for a formal speech. “I can not help but strengthen the role of Brazil here, which translates into a historic and diplomatic commitment in favor of peace, democracy and, above all, the rule of law,” he said. he declares.
Although Ernesto Araújo’s departure has somewhat dampened the image of Brazilian diplomacy, the fact that Bolsonaro has few friends in the hemisphere could lead countries to vote against Mudrovitsch as a means of punishing the current government.
Last year, Brazil was unable to approve a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague (Netherlands).
There are other obstacles to applying. Last year, the current president of the tribunal, Costa Rican Elizabeth Benito, called on countries to submit female candidates, since 6 of the current 7 members are men.
Five of the eight countries that submitted names responded to the suggestion – Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Suriname. Brazil, Peru and Ecuador have launched men. Two or three of the vacancies are expected to target women, which could hurt Mudrovitsch.
In addition, virtually all of the applicants are older and have a longer study program than the Brazilian.
There are three ministers or former ministers of the supreme courts in their country, a former minister of justice, a lawyer who has worked with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and one of the current members of the court, who is present for re-election.
Prosecutors for the Itamaraty bid are relying on the argument that Brazil, due to its size and population, cannot fail to have a judge in court.
Brazil should also offer support to candidates from countries for other bodies, as part of a common agreement in international relations. Mudrovitsch’s youth is seen as an advantage, as it testifies to his brilliance and brings renewal to the court.
In addition, the support of countries ruled by the center-right, such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and, depending on the outcome of their election, Peru, is supported. Venezuela is a sure vote, as its place is taken by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Each of the 24 members has the same weight and will secretly vote four times for the four open seats.
The campaign has so far been conducted online. Depending on how the pandemic progresses, there may be in-person visits to some countries from mid-year.
For Sylvia Steiner, ex-judge of the ICC, it is important that Brazil has a judge in court. “This current vacuum is unjustifiable,” she said, who claims to have no in-depth knowledge of the Brazilian candidate.
For Steiner, the court recently expanded its area of operation. “It judges primary rights, such as the right to life and not to be tortured, to those of the second and third generation, such as social rights and the environment.”
According to her, the Inter-American Court has different priorities from the European Court, which is concerned with more “sophisticated” issues, such as violations of due process or the right to come and go. “Here we are dealing with massacres, the extermination of populations, more fundamental questions.”
Former national human rights secretary Paulo Sergio Pinheiro says the relevance of the court is clear, as it is the only international body on the continent capable of making decisions binding on the Brazilian state.
“I hope that member countries do not elect a representative of a government that tests authoritarian coups every day for the highest human rights body in the inter-American system,” said Pinheiro, member of the Inter-American system. Arns Commission.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Effective start: 1979
Member countries: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela *
Number of judges: 7
Term of office: 6 years, with authorized renewal
César Landa, Peru, former president of the Supreme Court
Maytrie Singh, Suriname, judge
Miryam Josefina Peña, Paraguay, former Minister of the Supreme Court
Nancy Hernández, Costa Rica, Supreme Court judge
Patricia Pérez, Chile, former Minister of Justice
Patrício Pazmiño, Ecuador, current judge of the Court, candidate for re-election **
Rodrigo Mudrovitsch, Brazil, lawyer
Verónica Gómez, Argentina, professor of law, former advisor to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
* vacancy occupied by the government of self-proclaimed President Juan Guaidó
** indicated by Bolivia