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Cablegate: Overworked Sao Paulo Judges Want Greater Law

VZCZCXRO5937
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0992/01 3531809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191809Z DEC 07 ZFF6
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7761
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 3238
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8905
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 2992
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ PRIORITY 3639
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 2552
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2249
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE PRIORITY 3929
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 8498
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAO PAULO 000992

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA AND DRL
NSC FOR TOMASULO
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BR PGOV PHUM OEXC OIIP KCRM SNAR
SUBJECT: OVERWORKED SAO PAULO JUDGES WANT GREATER LAW
ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION

REF: SAO PAULO 946

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Sao Paulo judges tell us that they are overworked
and overburdened and that the growth in the drug trade and
lack of prison space make their already difficult work even
more challenging. Greg West, Assistant United States
Attorney and Organized Crime and Terrorism Section Chief for
the Northern District of New York, traveled to Sao Paulo
December 5-7 as part of a PA program on organized crime and
plea bargaining. In addition to delivering several lectures
West presented at the Sao Paulo School of Magistrates, West
met with the incoming and outgoing Chief Justices of the Sao
Paulo State Supreme Court and President of the Criminal
Section of the Sao Paulo State Courts of Appeals. In
addition, he visited the Barra Funda Criminal Court, Latin
America's largest criminal court, to learn about its
operations and procedures. Justices were eager to hear about
the judicial system in the United States and how the courts
handle organized crime. They asked for further exchanges and
assistance. End Summary.


Drug Trafficking
----------------

2. (SBU) During a December 6 meeting, President of the
Criminal Section of the Sao Paulo State Courts of Appeals,
Justice Luis Carlos Ribeiro dos Santos, emphasized that drug
trafficking is one of the most serious criminal issues in the
State of Sao Paulo. He lamented how many children are
pressured to run drugs and then become victims of associated
violence. Justice dos Santos said that organized criminal
gangs are increasingly involved in the drug trade and
predicted that as part of their participation in a variety of
criminal activities, they could potentially become involved
in more nefarious endeavors including terrorist financing.
(Note: Poloff believes this comment does not reflect any
current tie between criminal gangs and terrorist financing,
but rather illustrates the thinking by Justice dos Santos of
what could occur. End Note.)

Additional Concerns
-------------------

3. (SBU) Sao Paulo State Supreme Court of Appeals Criminal
Division justices raised a number of issues they saw as
impeding the fight against crime:

-- Many law enforcement officials are involved in criminal
activities, including a recent example of a case the court
tried in which a chief of police was actually serving as the
treasurer for a gang. Justice dos Santos, who takes over as
president of the Public Administration Section of the court
in January, said that in addition to police corruption,
corruption among politicians and elected officials is also
widespread. He noted that although Sao Paulo State has 645
municipalities, each with one mayor, there are over 1200 open
corruption cases against mayors in the state.

-- Justices complained about the lack of prison space in Sao
Paulo State. Other states regularly send their criminals to
be jailed in Sao Paulo, regardless of where the crime
occurred, because Sao Paulo has more jails and, even despite
its own case backlog, manages to process prisoners much
faster. However, the budget for all of the prisons in Sao
Paulo comes solely from the state government meaning that Sao
Paulo has to pay for the incarceration of prisoners from all
over the country. Sao Paulo is not able to house adequately

SAO PAULO 00000992 002 OF 002


all of these prisoners nor build new facilities, leading to
poor prison conditions and potentially to widespread abuses.
(See reftel.)

-- The judges remarked that the federal government does not
provide police with the funding nor legal tools necessary to
fight trafficking in persons, arms, and drugs across Brazil's
national borders.

The Court and its Internal Challenges
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Both during a meeting with the Criminal Section of
the Sao Paulo Court of Appeals and during a visit to Latin
America's largest criminal court, the Barra Funda Criminal
Court (in the city of Sao Paulo), West's interlocutors
pointed out serious problems within the judicial system.
Judicial proceedings are lengthy and take much longer than
they should because of bureaucratic holdups and processing
delays. According to the judges, they are overburdened with
cases and do not have enough staff support. The Brazilian
Constitution does not allow plea bargaining even if the
accused confesses, thus every case must be tried. The
Constitution also provides wide latitude for appeals. This
leads to an ever-growing backlog of cases. Incoming Sao
Paulo State Supreme Court Chief Justice Celso Limongi
commented that the greatest challenge facing the Sao Paulo
Supreme Court is that it does not have a guaranteed annual
budget; consequently, each year the governor is required to
ask the State Assembly to allocate the funds necessary to
finance the judicial system. He said that Governor Jose
Serra is "sensible" but could do more to support the courts.
Judge Nelson Becker, a 2006 IV grantee, told West that the
judiciary's independence is questioned when it has to beg the
legislature for additional annual operating funds. Judges
are forced to lobby members of the State Assembly, thus the
Court's greatest need is an independent budget, Becker added.
All the justices asked for continued exchanges with the
United States and any kind of assistance we might provide in
judicial and law enforcement training.

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) Brazilian media regularly report on the social
challenges of corruption, the growing drug trade, and the
overburdened judicial system. To hear the same issues raised
by the most senior judges in Sao Paulo State, which many
analysts admit has the best bench in all of Brazil, suggests
that the problems are indeed large and pressing. These
Justices presented a clear set of issues with which they seek
cooperation and assistance. We will continue to provide
opportunities for dialogue with the Sao Paulo State
Government and monitor other concerns within the law
enforcement community.

6. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia.
WHITE

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