Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday signed into law the bill whereby changes are introduced to the Penal Code's National Security chapter which dated back to times of military rule, and which will become effective 90 days from now.
The controversial National Security Law (LSN), which was passed in 1983 during the military dictatorship and which constituted the grounds for the Federal Supreme Court (TSF)'s arrest warrants against Deputy Daniel Silveira (PSL) and Senator Roberto Jefferson (PTB) has been repealed.
The new legislation introduces new criminal types to the Brazilian Penal Code. Nevertheless, Bolsonaro has vetoed five sections of the new bill and it is now up to Congress to review them.
The new law provides for greater freedom of expression and decriminalizes actions deemed as crimes under the previous norm. However, “people accused of crimes that no longer exist will be analyzed and can be classified under other types of criminal offences already provided for in previous law,” according to the G1 website.
On the other hand, new crimes as per the new legislation are to be enforced after the 90-day window, while at the same time old crimes such as promoting, in public, violent or illegal processes to change the political or social order or inciting subversion of the political or social order or the animosity between the Armed Forces or between these and social classes or civil institutions, both punishable by up to 4 years in jail, will cease to exist.
Among the new provisions are crimes against the functioning of the electoral process, punishable by up to 6 years in prison for anyone who disturbs the elections or their results by raiding ballot boxes electronic or virtual counting, for example.
Another crime as per the new norm is attempting a coup d'état, which entails a penalty of up to 12 years in prison. A crime previously included in the old rule has been rephrased: trying, with the use of violence or serious threat, to abolish the Democratic Rule of Law, preventing, restricting the exercise of constitutional powers now brings up a penalty of up to 8 years in prison.
The crime of slandering or defaming the President of the Republic, the Federal Senate, the House of Deputies or the Federal Supreme Court, imputing to them a fact defined as a crime or fact offensive to reputation has been suppressed. Trespassers are subject nonetheless to the already existing penalties of up to 2 years in jail for libel and defamation, although the penalty may be increased by one-third of the sentence when the target is the President. Under the old LSN, that crime carried up to 4 years in jail.
The new crimes are:
Attack on sovereignty - imprisonment for three to eight years for the crime of negotiating with a foreign government or group to provoke typical acts of war against the country or invade it. The penalty can even be doubled if, in fact, war is declared. If there is participation in a military operation to submit the national territory to the domain or sovereignty of another country, imprisonment is from four to 12 years;
Attack on national integrity - imprisonment for two to six years for those who practice violence or grave threats to dismember a part of the national territory to constitute an independent country. The offender must also answer for the penalty corresponding to the violence of the act;
Espionage - imprisonment for three to 12 years for those who hand over secret documents or information, which could endanger democracy or national sovereignty, to a foreign government or criminal organization. Whoever assists a spy is liable for the same penalty, which can be increased if the document is revealed in violation of the duty of secrecy. In addition, anyone who facilitates espionage by, for example, providing passwords to information systems can face detention of one to four years. However, it shall not constitute a crime to hand over documents to expose criminal practices or the violation of human rights;
Violent abolition of the Democratic Rule of Law - imprisonment for four to eight years for anyone who tries, with the use of violence or serious threat, to abolish the Democratic Rule of Law, preventing or restricting the exercise of constitutional powers. The offender must also account for the penalties corresponding to the violence of the act;
Coup d'etat - imprisonment for four to 12 years for anyone who tries to depose, by violence or serious threat, the legitimately constituted government. The offender must also account for the penalty corresponding to the violence of the act;
Interruption of the electoral process - imprisonment for three to six years and a fine for anyone who prevents or disturbs an election or the measuring of its results through violation of the voting system;
Political violence - three to six years in jail and a fine for anyone who restricts, prevents or hinders, through physical, psychological or sexual violence, the exercise of political rights to any person based on their sex, race, colour, ethnicity, religion or national origin;
Sabotage - two to eight years in prison for anyone who destroys or renders means of communication, establishments, installations or services intended for national defence useless, intending to abolish the Democratic Rule of Law;
The new norm also imposes three to six months' imprisonment, or fine, for those who publicly incite animosity between the Armed Forces, or against the Constitutional Powers, civil institutions or society.
But the new text also makes it clear that it will not be considered a crime against the Democratic Rule of Law:
- Appeal to the critical manifestation of constitutional powers;
- Journalistic activity;
- Claiming constitutional rights and guarantees through marches, meetings, strikes, gatherings or any other form of political manifestation with social purposes.