With respect to Mr. Daudt, although I’m sure you’re sincere in your response, you have advanced the exact same arguments that always accompany any, and I mean any, criticism of a foreign country. First comes the “clean up your backyard before you make accusations”, then, predictably, comes the “U.S. history with respect to (insert country here) is really bad, so…”. The problem with both statements is that they completely ignore the actual issue, which is, in my view, basic human rights.
I’m a lawyer because I believe in the rule of law. I also believe in basic fairness, and the author of the original piece omitted or distorted facts that should have been brought to light. I’m well aware of the Brazilian law that allows “charitable donations” instead of prosecution. Within Brazil, it is well known that it is a “rich people” law, because it allows those with resources to skirt laws for which poor people have to face punishment. So there goes the “you’re ignorant of the law” argument.
I’m no expert on Brazilian criminal procedure and neither are you, but I’m fairly certain their Constitution calls for due process in courts of law, not in gas station parking lots. It’s not about Lochte or the Olympics or celebrity. It’s about whether or not it is legitimate to hold someone at gunpoint and demand money, even money you deem to be restitution, rather than calling the actual authorities. It’s about “suggesting” a sizeable donation (roughly $10K) as a precondition to being able to leave the country when at most you have been accused, not convicted, but accused of being a witness to vandalism, the equivalent of a simple misdemeanor under Brazilian law. A law that you didn’t break. A law that you watched someone break. It’s ridiculous and indefensible. The swimmers’ Brazilian lawyer said that he had never seen the law used this way. And, by the way, please don’t claim that anyone benefitted from a Brazilian procedural rule that allows defendants (or potential? defendants) to refuse to give a statement. It was a fuck job all the way around and would be if it happened to a native Brazilian or an Italian or an Iranian.
Yeah, American cops have had a shitty human rights record, especially lately, but almost all of them are prosecuted, and those who aren’t are still subject to public scrutiny, demonstrations, etc. But admit it, if a Brazilian kid tore up a gas station in Illinois and the security officer pulled a gun on him and demanded money, the guard’s head would be on a pole and rightly so.
It’s about human rights and the rule of law, which, as much of an asshole as he is, should apply to Ryan Lochte as much as any of us. It was outrageous conduct in any context, any country, anywhere, and the fact that the Brazilians were more concerned with the vandalism than the extortion tells us everything we need to know about their system of jurisprudence.