The Chamber of Deputies almost did not approve, last Tuesday (6), an urgent request to vote on Bill 2720/23 by federal deputy Dani Cunha (União-RJ). The proposal that criminalizes behaviors considered discriminatory against politicians and authorities and violates rights guaranteed in the Constitution was withdrawn from the agenda due to lack of consensus among the leaders.
The urgency request was released for voting by the President of the House, deputy Arthur Lira (PP-AL), but left the agenda after the parties Novo, PSOL and PCdoB required a roll call vote, when it is possible to identify the vote of each deputy. The previous agreement sewn with the leaders provided for symbolic voting.
The session that would put the urgency of the project to a vote was led by the vice-president of the House, deputy Marcos Pereira (PP-AL). The request was signed by leaders of the União Brasil, the PL, the PSB and the blocão commanded by Lira.
According to the project, anyone who criticizes a person who is “politically exposed” or who has been denounced and even convicted in cases that have not yet become final could be punished with two to four years in prison and a fine.
“Politically exposed” persons are: representatives of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers; presidents and officials of other countries; presidents of political parties; authorities of public or private international law entities, such as the UN, WHO, OAS and NGOs; between others. The relatives of these people would also be shielded by the new law.
The text also provides that the accused is prevented from opening or operating bank accounts, in addition to having denied any request to obtain credit from financial institutions.
Under the proposal, any legitimate expression of opinion runs the risk of being criminalized. The set of penalties is greater than those provided for in the Penal Code for crimes against honor (slander, defamation and injury) and similar to measures adopted for those accused of corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism.
The author of the proposal is the daughter of former deputy Eduardo Cunha (MDB-RJ), who was sentenced to more than 55 years in prison in three corruption cases. On the 29th of May, in the wake of the understanding that dismissed Lula for alleged incompetence of the Justice of Paraná, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) decided to annul a decision that had condemned Eduardo Cunha for receiving bribes in the scope of Lava investigations. Jet.
In justifying the project, Dani Cunha defends the principle of the presumption of innocence of politicians. “Discrimination practiced solely by virtue of political position or because it is a party to a lawsuit needs to be purged from our society, honoring the fundamental protections granted by the Carta Maior”, says an excerpt of the justification.
Carlos Barros, a lawyer specializing in electoral law, explains that the proposal, if approved, will jeopardize freedom of expression, free expression of thought and other constitutional guarantees. The initiative would also violate the presumption of innocence of those who convey an opinion.
“The practical effect of PL 2720/2023 is to submit the sovereign popular opinion to bureaucratic processes of the State. Drawing: if I call a politician a thief, if this politician has not exhausted all the infinite resources available, in all instances, even the highest of them, I will be incurring discrimination, with imprisonment penalty of two to four years, and fine,” he explains.
“This goes for individual opinion, for that of press vehicles, for any embarrassment in assuming public positions and functions, and even for possible shortcomings in financial transactions in banking institutions. The presumption of innocence was transformed into certainty of innocence, in the case of politicians. The citizen, on the other hand, went from presumed innocent to manifestly guilty”, he continued.
Dani Cunha’s project clearly hurts freedom of expression and flirts with impositions of totalitarian regimes, like dictatorships such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Interestingly, on the last May 31st, the deputy went to social networks criticize the presence of the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, in Brazil.
“Welcoming a dictator with honors is already shameful for our country. Now, allowing violence to a woman in the full exercise of her profession is inadmissible”, said the parliamentarian in reference to the aggression suffered by journalist Delis Ortiz, who was punched in the chest by agents who were protecting Maduro, whom Dani Cunha called of “criminal”.
One of the measures adopted by Maduro to stay in power was the criminalization of his opponents. In Nicaragua, dictator Daniel Ortega has been persecuting Christians and jailing priests and bishops for criticizing the regime.
Recently, a report produced by human rights activists found that all political prisoners in Cuba are tortured.
Initiatives similar to Dani Cunha’s proposal to punish critics can also be contemplated in other repressive regimes, such as North Korea, China, Iran, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, considered the most censored country in the world according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
At the beginning of last month, congresswoman Dani Cunha celebrated the postponement of the vote on Bill 2.630/20, also known as the Fake News PL or Censorship PL. Despite standing against the project that aims, in practice, to censor opinions and persecute critics of the current government, the parliamentarian said she was “in favor of regulating fake news” to combat the damage caused by “reputation murders” on the internet.