Latin America 1980's Political System

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CJ509 Unit 7 Assignment

CJ509 Unit 7 Assignment


For Latin America, the 1980s represented the transition from authoritarian political systems to democratically elected governments, with deep implications for the system of criminal justice. This work is intended to establish parameters to verify the effectiveness of the process of re-democratization, considering the administration of criminal justice as one of the most relevant sectors to characterize a political system as democratic.

The national academic output concerning the application of Justice in rape crimes is rather modest and its scope of investigation is for the most part limited to only one of the stages of penal prosecution. This output is also rather ethnocentric considering the scarcity of comparisons between the results obtained in Brazil and those produced by research in other countries. As a result, the patterns and tendencies identified nationally have been interpreted as unique and are often exclusively attributed to the incapacity and inefficiency of Brazilian police and justice system in dealing with social demands.

The Judicial System of Brazil

Nowadays, the indicator most often used to measure the level of a democracy is the protection of human rights, among them human freedom (the physical integrity of individuals, the rule of Law, freedom of expression, political participation, and equality of opportunity) and political rights and civil liberties. Some of those rights are closely related to the administration of justice, such as equality before the Law, access to an impartial and independent judiciary power, protection against arbitrary arrests and torture, mechanisms of control against corruption.

Democratic transition is the process that comprises political liberalization, the increase in political pluralism, tolerance to opposition, and the respect for public liberties of the regime and its democratization, as well as direct and/or indirect popular participation in decision making. Such process is not linear and can be impaired by remains of the previous regime. In the case of Latin America, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were no abrupt changes but rather an exhaustion of the authoritarian regimes. The transition was determined by internal factors whose course was established by dominant elites represented by military authorities' general amnesty and external ones, where foreign political and cultural influences played a role, especially by the USA (Santos, 2005).

Democratic transition is the large gap between the formal and the real situation regarding principles, between what should be and what actually is. As for accessibility, there is disinformation about laws and procedures as well as the means to pursue one's rights. There is also loss of confidence because of the negative image of the Judiciary created by corruption, tardiness and inefficiency. As for independence, legal decisions are often subject to external pressures (period to exert functions, variable and low pay, death threats, and dismissal from positions) and internal (higher instances). Judges' impartiality and equity are targeted by pressures, threats and corruption; suspension of legal guarantees; vague expressions in codes that favor authoritarianism; uncertainty about the precise moment when the process begins; deficiencies of defense systems.

It has been said that the most adequate method to ...