SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The United Nations Human Rights Committee, a group of independent experts, said on Friday it had asked the Brazilian government to allow jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to exercise his political rights as a presidential candidate.
Lula is the candidate of his Workers’ Party (PT) and is leading presidential elections ahead of the October ballot, but it is widely expected that he will be barred from running by an electoral tribunal. He was imprisoned in April for corruption.
The UN Committee, which oversees countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, said in an emailed statement that it had asked the Brazilian government “not to prevent him from running in the 2018 presidential elections, until he appealed to the courts”. were completed through a fair judicial process.
The statement added that the Brazilian government should ensure “that Lula can enjoy and exercise his political rights in prison, as a candidate for the 2018 presidential elections”.
“This includes having appropriate access to the media and members of one’s political party,” the committee said.
Brazil’s delegation to the UN in Geneva said in a written statement that the committee’s findings were not legally binding, but that recommendations on Lula would be forwarded to the country’s judiciary.
Under Brazilian law, Lula is allowed free access to his lawyers, including PT figures, as well as weekly family visits. He is authorized to communicate in writing, but federal prosecutors say he is prohibited from making video or audio recordings.
Lula’s legal team said in a written statement that it interprets the committee’s decision to mean that “no Brazilian government entity can present obstacles to former President Lula’s ability to run for president. of 2018, until his appeals are exhausted in a fair trial”.
Ahead of the October 7 vote, Brazil’s top electoral court is expected to declare Lula ineligible in coming weeks under a “clean slate” law that prohibits politicians from seeking public office if they have been found guilty of ‘a crime and this was confirmed on appeal, as is the case with Lula.
Lula said his conviction was the result of political persecution and part of a right-wing plot to prevent him from regaining the presidency.
Reporting by Brad Brooks; additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva and Anthony Boadle and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia; edited by Brad Haynes, Phil Berlowitz and G Crosse