The Brazilian Councils of Justice and Public Prosecutor's Office as Instruments of Accountability

Fábio Kerche Vanessa Elias de Oliveira Cláudio Gonçalves Couto About the authors

Abstract

Councils acting in the Justice System in democracies have different purposes: to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and the public prosecutor’s office, to increase accountability of judges and prosecutors, or/and to improve justice management. This article analyzes the Brazilian National Council of Justice (CNJ) and the National Council of the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office (CNMP), particularly regarding their purpose as instruments of accountability. The study shows that these bodies were created as instruments to increase transparency and compel judges and prosecutors to be held accountable for their actions and choices. The hypothesis tested in this research is that the two councils did not meet this expectation. The CNJ and CNMP were analyzed for their institutional design, discussing how the composition and distribution of positions at the council encourage independence of the judges and prosecutors rather than accountability. In addition, the article offers data on the councils’ decisions when accusations were presented. Finally, the analysis revealed that CNJ and CNMP are mainly composed of internal members of the Judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and identified a lack of expressive punishment applied to judges and prosecutors. Therefore, the hypothesis that the councils do not work as instruments of accountability was confirmed.

Keywords:
judiciary; public prosecutor’s office; accountability

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