For several years, the crusading Brazilian judge Sergio Moro was considered a hero in the global anti-corruption field for his admirable accomplishments in the Lava Jato cases. But then the outcomes of his cases began to have a serious impact on the nation’s politics, shaping who was able to compete on the ballot, and then finally the decision to accept a ministerial position from the controversial victor of the past election. Once some leaked messages suggested that Judge Moro had coordinated on open cases with prosecutors, the scandal exploded and continues to roil Brazil today.
Writing in The Hill, Robert Amsterdam argues that what we are seeing in Brazil is part of a broader trend seen across many countries, from South Korea to Uganda. Amsterdam writes, “Anti-corruption efforts have become a powerful tool, not least because of the popularity they almost inevitably will enjoy among the general population. Corruption, after all, is unambiguously bad. It follows, then, that anti-corruption is unambiguously good. Using popular support as a source of legitimacy, those undertaking these efforts can skirt procedural norms at will, as long as it’s done relatively quietly, knowing that the opinion of the public — and, importantly, of the opinion-makers — will rest comfortably on their side.”
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