Committee approves bill allowing land repossession without a judge

The House Public Safety Committee agreed an invoice this Tuesday to authorize the repossession of occupied land without the need for a court decision – meaning landowners can simply shoot “trespassers” with their own power or call the police.

The text states that a landowner “may preserve or restore [possession] under his own power, provided he does so promptly and the acts of defense do not go beyond what is strictly necessary to maintain or restore possession, or, notwithstanding a court order, requests the assistance of the police.”

The bill was passed without a vote.

The proposal was supported by members of the so-called “Bullet Caucus” – a group of conservative gun lawmakers. Earlier this month, the committee approved a bill granting amnesty to 74 police officers convicted of the 1992 massacre at São Paulo’s Carandiru prison. It was the bloodiest episode in Brazilian penal history.

The draft law’s rapporteur, Aluisio Mendes, who also chairs the committee, argued that judges could be pressured into making unfair decisions. According to him, “international pressure” may have influenced the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision confirmed the delimitation of the indigenous territory of Raposa Serra do Sol in the northern state of Roraima.

Prior to this verdict, the region had been plagued by conflicts between indigenous peoples and rice farmers for several years. The Supreme Court decision ordered the expulsion of non-Indigenous citizens from the region.

During Tuesday’s discussion of the bill, lawmakers expressed concern about the left-wing Landless Workers Movement (MST), which for some time has used “squatting” tactics extensively, sending farmers onto unused private farmland to claim for themselves . However, such professions were mostly practiced in the 1990s have since fallen dramatically before the Jair Bolsonaro government.

The MST agreed in October 2021 resume its land occupation strategy.

Attorney Isabel Figueiredo, a researcher at the Brazilian Public Safety Forum, a think tank, recounted The Brazilian report She understands that the law is unconstitutional and will be struck down by the Supreme Court if it goes ahead. “A bill cannot remove a conflict of interest such as land ownership from the judiciary’s analysis. Such a decision is not in the hands of the police.” She adds that property titles claimed by landowners could be wrong.

The bill must be approved by another House committee before it can go to the Senate.

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