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Republican Pact: partnership among the three branches of the State at the service of democracy

In 2004, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF), the Presidential Palace and the National Congress have partnered to improve the country's institutions through the Republican Pact. This partnership between the three branches of government aims to contribute to a solid democracy and consists of a significant effort for the modernization of the Judiciary.

That year, the concerted action among the three branches already had resulted in the adoption of Constitutional Amendment 45, which provided for the Judicial Reform and the establishment, by the Executive, of the Secretary of the Judicial Reform under the Ministry of Justice, intended to collaborate, coordinate and systematize proposals for legislative improvement and the access to justice.

The first edition of the Republican Pact, signed after the enactment of Constitutional Amendment 45, aimed primarily at achieving a Judiciary faster and more responsive to the demands of citizenship, especially through the rapid approval of the bills that improved justice in the country. The results were encouraging, since the pact was critical for the effectiveness of mechanisms that increased the agility of justice, as the regulation of the institutes of Binding Precedent and the General Repercussion by Laws n. 11,417 and 11,418 respectively, both sanctioned in December 2006.

The full effect of these institutes has helped to ease the offices of the 11 Justices of the Court, allowing a more rapid progress in their cases because that prevented the filing of numerous Extraordinary Appeals and Interlocutory Appeals. According to the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Cezar Peluso, the systematic application of the General Repercussion has resulted, since 2007, in a reduction of 41.2% in the number of appeals that reach the Court.

Among other actions approved at the Republican Pact is the creation of a centralized registry of missing children and adolescents, the classification of the crime of kidnapping, and the revision of the legislation on sexual crimes. Of the 41 projects submitted to Congress that sought to achieve greater effectiveness of the Judiciary, 11 became law, 4 are waiting to enter the agenda, and the remaining are following the legal channels in the committees of the Federal Senate or the Chamber of Deputies.

 

Republican Pact II

The achievements of the first Republican Pact, which allowed the effective collaboration of the three powers in carrying out necessary reforms and updating of procedural laws, led to the representatives of the Three Powers to sign in April 2009, the second edition of the Pact. The effectiveness of measures taken indicated that such commitments should be reaffirmed and extended to strengthen human rights protection, the effectiveness of the jurisdiction, universal access to justice and also the improvement of the democratic rule of law and institutions of the Justice System.

Only during that year, the second Republican Pact produced twelve laws and a constitutional amendment. In criminal matters, approved the conduct of interrogation through the videoconferencing system and made the possession of a mobile phone or radio in prison without authorization a criminal offence, as well as the created a department in order to monitor and supervise the implementation of resolutions and recommendations of the National Council of Justice for the provisional arrest and final safety measure, and hospitalization of adolescents. Several other issues have been settled, as the participation of public defenders in extrajudicial acts, the organization of the Public Legal Defense and the creation of Special Courts for the Treasury within the states and municipalities.

Fruit of the second Pact, one of the approved projects and extremely important for the poor was the Law 12,011 (2009), which allowed the creation of 230 new federal courts, intended for internalization of the Federal Court of first degree and the deployment of Special Federal the interior of Brazil, with an estimate of 46 courts installed by year until 2014. The advantage is that citizens now find it easier to sue, since no action is required of lawyers, because of the case value limit of 60 minimum wages (R$ 32.700,00/ US$ 19,660), and the amount to be received is not subject to judicial requests. Moreover, the result is obtained within six months, record time taking into account the average transaction of a judicial process in Brazil.

Also under the second Pact, the approval of Law nº 12.322 (2010), which entered into force in December to change the nature of interlocutory appeal, will cause even more significant changes in the STF. Under the new system, the interlocutory appeal will be considered as a preliminary to action, which will facilitate the implementation of general repercussion. As it forms the majority of proceedings before the Court, since it represents about 50% of all cases in process (44,948 injuries in a universe of 88,834 cases in 2010), this change will impact not only on procedural economy, but also the effective adjudication and even environmental protection.

On balance performed at the end of the judicial year 2010, Chief Justice noted that for the first time in 11 years that fewer than 90.000 cases (88.834) proceeded in the Supreme Court. He stressed the General Repercussion and the electronic proceeding as extremely important instruments to carry out the work of the Court. The first one makes it possible to examine, from the perspective of the general impact on society, cases that tend to overload the courts or for which there are divergent case law, and the latter, in turn, contributes to the extension of speedy trial, publicity, transparency of performance and credibility of judgments.

 

Republican Pact III

At the opening ceremony of Judicial Year 2011, Chief Justice Cezar Peluso, presented the proposal of the third Republican Pact, with the intention of continuing the improvement process of the legal system and consolidating the process of modernization of the judicial machinery. He stressed the importance of the joint work that has been performed between the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches, which should be kept strictly adhered to the constitutional guarantees of citizens, aiming that they have increasing access to a speedy and efficient justice.

He emphasized that the two pacts have been released since the enactment of Constitutional Amendment 45 and, besides already showing effective results in the country, these initiatives are reverberating internationally. They were mentioned as a peculiar mechanism of improvement of our legal system in the Second World Conference of Constitutional Justice, held on January 17-18, in Rio de Janeiro, an event that was attended by over 350 legal authorities of several countries.

According to Chief Justice, the branches of government are independent, but can not fail to be harmonious with each other. And although it is recognized, even internationally, their joint performance in various fields, Peluso urged the authorities to give "one step beyond in not only building a new civic consciousness, but above all, a refreshing culture of solidarity, interaction and respect among the institutional powers, at the limits that gives us the Constitution".

Among the topics that should be involved in the third pact, which is still being drawn up formally, are the simplification of procedural requirements and expanding the powers of the courts of appeals, in particular reducing the number of appeals that can be filed in each court and the changing in the nature of extraordinary appeals to reduce the duration of court cases, as well as the end of the suspensive effect on judgments issued by the Federal Regional Courts and the Courts of Justice, in order that they have immediate effect, regardless of the trial of the special and extraordinary appeals filed in the Superior Court of Justice and the Supreme Court. There is also a proposal for the creation of a multidisciplinary university on public safety and social development, in order to discuss and suggest actions to fight crime and poverty with resources from different areas of expertise.

The initial proposal for the third pact, formulated by Justice Cezar Peluso, was welcomed by the Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate and the President of the Republic and is now being formalized.

As seen, the joint operation of the institutions is the great advantage of the Republican Pact. Integrated, the court goes in search of excellence, under the firm intention of becoming more efficient and accessible to all citizens.

Read the full speech (in Portuguese) of Chief Justice Cezar Peluso.

Here's the percentage of Extraordinary Appeals and Interlocutory Appeals in relation to distributed processes - from 1990 to 2011 (in Portuguese).

 

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