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International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice in Brazil

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In the Brazilian legal system there is no tradition in recognising the applicability of international criminal law over domestic law. In two cases judged by the STF, the Haximu Massacre and Siegfried Ellwanger, only tangential questions were addressed. In the first, the arguments concentrated on examining the legal definition of the crime of genocide and its distinction from homicide. In the second, the questions revolved around the social, historical, and political interpretation of the word "race" in the judgment of a defendant who had published anti-Semitic and "revisionist" books and articles about the Holocaust. Brazil has also demonstrated itself to be somewhat refractory in incorporating the principles of international criminal law when examining the Justice of Transition. In a recent decision, the STF affirmed the constitutionality of Law No. 6,683/79, which granted amnesty to the perpetrators of political crimes and the public agents responsible for torture and the forced disappearance of people during the military dictatorship. In summary, the Justices recognised as valid the political agreement that led to the promulgation of the Amnesty Law in such a way that any alteration of its terms could only be made by the National Congress.

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile; 2: Professor of Procedural Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil


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