Without any fanfare or media commotion, a major visit took place here in Israel this spring when a delegation of approximately 50 federal judges from the high courts of Brazil visited the Jewish state.
The distinguished judges attended a two-day seminar in April on various aspects of the Israeli legal system, including medical, military, diplomatic, civil, economic, criminal, religious and state law. Our own Rachel Scapa, a KNI writer, gave one of the seminar’s lectures, covering censorship and the interaction between government and the press.
Scapa spoke about the specific instances in which Israeli media is required to censor a story, or at least wait for its publication. She also covered the need for this censorship and the existing censorship agreement between the Israeli media and the IDF. At the end of the lecture, the judges asked practical and comparative questions about the publication of news items here and Brazil. In Brazil there is no censorship, which many times leads to reporting that is harmful and even intentionally damaging to a subject.
The Brazilian judges toured various institutions, including the Knesset, the Supreme Court and a prison for security prisoners just as the prisoners started a hunger strike. They wondered why prisoners in Israeli jails would strike at all, comparing them to the prison conditions in Brazil including overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions.
Tzvi Szajbrum, a Brazilian-born attorney who has been living in Israel for 30 years and founded VOLEH, a volunteer organization for Portuguese and English speaking immigrants, initiated the event in cooperation with Attorney Raquel Coelho, director of External Relations of the Federation of Federal Judges of Brazil (AJUFE).
At the end of the visit, Koelio said the judges admired Israel’s legal system as “a country without a written constitution, but is able to guarantee more rights to its citizens than Brazil.”
The distinguished judges from Brazil admired the efficiency of the Israeli system that allows citizens to declare address changes, marital statuses, car registrations or tax filings at individual ministries rather than at a court. The Brazilian judges said a system like that would unburden the already overloaded courts in their country.
“There is a lot of trust. No doubt Israel is a young country but the system is working,” Koelio told a newspaper of the Jewish community of Brazil.
For Israelis that feel their own legal system is unfair, it turns out that judges here serve as a model for judges from countries like Brazil that are battered by corruption.