The Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office comprises public prosecutors at federal and state level. Operating independently of the three branches of government it has been seen by some commentators as a ‘Fourth Power’ of government. As well as prosecuting crimes, the Brazilian Constitution authorizes the Office to bring action against private companies and individuals as well as government to defend minorities, the environment, consumers and civil society. They defend public and collective rights, file law suits, make non-binding recommendations and organise class actions.
The Brazilian Constitution, under Article 225, also sets out that: “All have the right to an ecologically balanced environment, which is an asset of common use and essential to a healthy quality of life, and both the Government and the community shall have the duty to defend and preserve it for present and future generation.”
These public and collective interests or rights are upheld by the Prosecutor’s Office, enabling those who otherwise may not be represented to be so particularly in highly complex situations. For example, the use of DDT has now been restricted to specific purposes.
Image copyright: Brazil/Parana/Siproeta Stelenes Meridionalis/Malachite/Iguassu Falls by dany13; Creative Commons Licence