Supreme Court to limit Bolsonaro’s “carte blanche” decree

Supreme Court
Photo: Rosinei Coutinho/SCO/STF

Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro issued a provisional decree which would shield public agents — including elected officials — from any legal responsibility for acts related to fighting Covid-19, except if they commit a “clear, intentional, and inexcusable mistake.”

The decree says that courts shall take into account the “context of uncertainty about the adequate measures to face the pandemic.” It was attacked by many in the political establishment, who saw it as an attempt of the president to protect himself from any legal trouble in the future, after inciting people to flout social isolation rules and use unproven antimalarial drug chloroquine.

The decree was challenged at the Supreme Court. While the trial is still ongoing, there is already a majority in favor of limiting the decree. Here are the main arguments that should be ruled by the 11 Supreme Court justices:

  1. Public and elected officials who commit illegal actions shall be punished regardless of the decree;
  2. The case’s rapporteur, Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, also defined what shall be considered a “clear, intentional, and inexcusable mistake” — acts that violate the right to life or health that result from a disregard for scientific criteria and constitutional principles.
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