Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office v. Ricardo Salles and Federal Union
Side A: Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (Government)
Side B: Ricardo Salles and Federal Union (Individual government)
Core objectives: The Public Prosecutor’s Office seeks to declare administrative improbity and removal of the Minister of Environment for the practice of intentional acts that violated the constitutional duty to protect the environment.
Summary“Ministério Público Federal vs. Ricardo Salles e União Federal (Ação de Improbidade Administrativa)”
On July 6, 2020, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) filed a Civil Action for Administrative Improbity, with a request for precautionary removal from office, against Ricardo Salles, at the time Minister of Environment of Brazil, claiming the practice of intentional acts that violated the constitutional duty to protect the environment. It states that the former Minister, through actions, omissions, practices, and speeches, promoted the dismantling of environmental policies, favoring unlawful interests in violation of the constitutional principles that guide the Public Administration. The MPF raises a vast set of acts by the former Minister that they allege have contributed to the intentional dismantling of environmental protection, based on four main aspects: (i) regulatory measures; (ii) transparency and participation measures; (iii) budget measures; and (iv) monitoring measures. As for normative dismantling, climate is highlighted regarding the extinction of the Secretariat of Climate Change and Forests. The MPF claiming that such an act would signal that the combating climate change is not a priority of the Federal Government and would distance Brazil from its international and national climate commitments. Regarding the budget dismantling, it questions the reduction of resources allocated to the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and the paralysis of the Amazon Fund due to the extinction of the operational and guiding bodies. The Amazon Fund is dedicated to financing REDD+ actions linked to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and the MPF mentions its paralysis influences in lack of financing and implementation of the Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAm), provided for in the National Policy on Climate Change – PNMC. The increase in deforestation and the Ministry's lack of action to combat it are associated with the failure to comply with climate commitments and deforestation reduction targets. Given a broad picture of dismantling of the protection of the environment, the MPF requested, as a preliminary injunction, the precautionary removal of Ricardo Salles from the post of Minister of the Environment, with a definitive request that the acts questioned be declared unlawful and as to sentence him to loss of public office.
The first instance judge denied the preliminary injunction request.
In its reply, the Federal Government denied the existence of any wrongdoing by the former minister Ricardo Salles. It alleged the principle of separation of powers, affirming the inadmissibility of a lawsuit questioning the choice of the President regarding the appointment of public positions of trust. It emphasized that the acts questioned by the MPF are decisions of administrative merit, within the scope of the competencies of the public manager to direct public policies. Also, that they were carried out in accordance with the environmental agenda and in compliance with the laws and the Constitution.