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Public Statement: Judges in Brazil (November 2011)

The Law Society of Upper Canada Expresses Concerns about the Security of Judges in Brazil

The Law Society of Upper Canada publicly condemns the death of Judge Patricia Aicoli and other acts of violence, including attempted assassinations and threats of violence against judges in Brazil. Acts of violence such as the assassination of judges undermines the importance and legitimacy of their work, while weakening democracy and the rule of law. 

According to reports we have received, Judge Aicoli was murdered by masked assailants and shot 21 times in front of her home in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro. The reports we have received suggest that her murder was in retaliation for her adjudication in the trials and convictions of members of the “Milicias” and in particular the murder investigation of an 18 year-old man that involved several police officers. Judge Aicoli was also known for her tough stance on police corruption.

Reports have also indicated that there have been several arrests made in connection with the murder of Judge Aicoli including a senior police commander. The Law Society of Upper Canada applauds the commitment of Brazilian authorities for addressing the level of violence being directed at judges.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is deeply concerned about judges in Brazil who carry out their work in a climate of intimidation and insecurity where they are subjected to threats and in some instances disappearances, assassinations and attempted assassinations.

Therefore, The Law Society of Upper Canada calls on the Government of Brazil to,

  1. thoroughly investigate the death of Judge Patricia Aicoli and other similar cases in an impartial and independent manner and ensure that the perpetrators of these acts of violence are tried fairly and brought to justice; and
  2. ensure that all judges can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of intimidation, death threats or attempts of assassination, as far as may be reasonably possible.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for some 43,000 lawyers and 3500 paralegals in the Province of Ontario, Canada and the Treasurer is the head of the Law Society. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law. 

The Law Society urges the legal community to intervene in support of members of the legal profession in Brazil in their effort to maintain the independence of the legal profession, to advance the respect of human rights and to promote the Rule of Law.

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