Three questions for Maria Tereza Sadek


ETCO's advisory adviser, Maria Tereza Sadek, talks about impunity, legislation and justice. PhD in political science and professor at the Department of Political Science at USP, she is one of the most respected justice researchers in Brazil.

1) Although the winds of modernization are blowing strong in Brazil, there are still obstacles that hinder a real process of institutional renewal. The feeling of impunity still reigns and feeds corrupt and corrupting people who are not afraid for their actions. Is it certain that the law in Brazil does not produce results? Why?

The institutional renewal process has been slow and has met with resistance. The practically widespread perception of the existence of impunity is based on everyday data. Reports of corruption accumulate and punishment is rare. The feeling on the part of the population is that opportunities provided by legislation and the slowness of justice favor criminals. Impunity reinforces perceptions that the law is not the same for everyone, the existence of privileges and, equally serious, leads to disbelief in justice and democracy.

2) Is it just a matter of legislation or are there other factors involved?

Legislation is important, but it is far from being the only factor or determinant. International research shows that the certainty of punishment is a more important factor in inhibiting transgressions than the severity of the penalty. Factors such as education, cultural traits and the effectiveness of the law are fundamental. Furthermore, comparative studies have concluded that corruption tends to be greater the greater the size of the state machine and the greater the state's control over the economy.

3) What measures are necessary to create greater efficiency and agility in complying with the laws? Is it difficult to change this scenario?

The indisputable difficulty in changing the scenario cannot be a paralyzing factor. Policies aimed at strengthening institutions, increasing levels of transparency and control, as well as educational projects should be encouraged. In this sense, the justice system and especially the Judiciary must be considered a priority. Improving the distribution and effectiveness of justice are indispensable factors for guaranteeing rights and for building a democratic society, governed by law, composed of citizens.