Lava Jato and the Winds of Change

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In the wake of the Car Wash corruption scandal, seven Latin American countries are heading to the polls to elect new presidents. Global Insight assesses the implications for rule of law and democracy across the continent.

Comments by Michael Camilleri:

“The success of the Lava Jato investigation in Brazil has had an enormous impact across Latin America, not least because of the parallel investigations it triggered in several other countries. Prosecutors and judges such as Rodrigo Janot and Sérgio Moro are widely admired in Brazil and the broader region for their roles in exposing, investigating and sanctioning systemic corruption.”

“In Brazil and elsewhere, these nascent but successful efforts to hold the powerful to account have provoked a backlash, and progress remains fragile. Lasting change will require a mobilised citizenry, political renewal, and judicial institutions that are both technically sophisticated and intensely independent. In Brazil, for example, it is essential that prosecutions of corrupt politicians from outside Lula’s Workers’ Party proceed swiftly, in order to counter perceptions of selective justice.”

“[The so-called ‘Lima Commitment’] is significant, especially against the backdrop of recent Summits, which failed to achieve consensus on anything, much less something as central to citizen concerns as corruption. To be sure, the Lima Commitment is a statement of intent, not a legally binding or self-executing plan of action. But it is notable nonetheless and provides a roadmap for future action and a basis on which to demand follow-up from governments.”

“The peace accord is politically unpopular, and it is unlikely the next government of Colombia will bring the same commitment as the current one to the task of implementation. The risk is not so much that the peace accord falls apart and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC) return to the jungle, but that a minimalist, underfunded, and poorly coordinated implementation effort fails to address the underlying causes of conflict in Colombia and leads a significant number of former FARC members to migrate into criminal groups – thus perpetuating the violence, albeit in a different form.”

Read the full article in the International Bar Association.