A transgression on Brazilian state’s government autonomy? The case of Federal Intervention for Public Safety in the state of Rio de Janeiro

Among the division of responsibilities given by the 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution to its three levels of government (the federal, its 27 state and its 5570 municipalities), public safety area leans toward the state government as Police and Military force are under the state governor’s rules. Since then, the federal government’s role has been characterized by the literature mainly by its absence to get involved in this field as a way to avoid the responsibility to coordinate this policy. The proposal of this paper is in line with this argument as it proposes to discuss the principle of federative autonomy after the Federal Intervention for Public Safety in the state of Rio de Janeiro was signed by a presidential decree in February 16th, 2018. As it was the first time Brazilian government has taken such a decision since 1988, we argue that the Federal Intervention is a strategy of intergovernmental relations that encroach state’s government role. But bearing in mind the contents of public safety area as a public policy this measure raises the coordination costs of the federal government. The theoretical background used in this paper will take into account the specialized literature on Brazilian public safety governance’s structure and will make use of Jenna Bednar’s (2009) concept of federal safeguards. By using documental data available from official documents and civil society organizations that worked in the process of formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Federal Intervention in Rio de Janeiro, the case will be analysed taking into account the following parameters: i) the institutional arrangements and the governance structure created by this decision; ii) the accountability instruments created to monitor levels of crime and the reduction in criminality; iii) the juridical safeguards created to allow Brazilian Armed Forces to become agents of public safety.

Walkiria Zambrzycki Dutra /Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (IESP/UERJ)