As a new wave of protests swept Brazil’s capital last month, many people were left wondering how the country was supposed to govern itself after decades of dictatorship and authoritarian rule.
At first, the answer was simple: Police are now the country’s “official” officers.
The new law is the culmination of a campaign by President Michel Temer’s ruling Workers Party, and it comes after the death of Brazilian police chief Pedro Carvalho, who was killed in a shootout with protesters in the state of São Paulo.
Temer said he would appoint an independent commission to determine the legality of Carvalhato’s death, but that it would be up to the police to decide whether to investigate his death.
“It’s important that the truth comes out,” Temer told reporters in Brasilia on Monday.
“If we don’t, I’m afraid that this will become a template that will become something that will be used against us in the future.”
The law, passed last week, comes after Temer promised to restore democracy after his predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was killed by protesters during a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in December 2015.
Since then, several protests have turned violent, with more than 2,500 arrested.
In a bid to restore order, Temer has also promised to abolish the military dictatorship of Luiz André Antonio Lula, who ruled Brazil from 1985 to 1997.
Lula was also a member of the Workers Party and had served as president for two decades, but was ousted from office in 2015 following protests against corruption.
“The government is now officially the police,” Brazilian opposition politician Pedro Morais said after a recent demonstration in Sao Paulo.
“I’m sure that you will see the police are now also the country.
They are the police, they are the state.”
Temer has vowed to restore “Brazilian democracy” after his presidency in 2016, but his administration has faced criticism for not doing enough to hold onto power after his first term ended.
On Monday, the head of the countrys main political party, Brazilian Workers Party (PT) candidate Luis Henrique Cardoso, called on the government to immediately dismiss the head police officer.
“There is no way for us to trust the police when the police have not only the title of being the state, but also the right to kill,” Cardoso said.
Temers government has been accused of trying to use the law to target the opposition as well.
“We are now facing the threat of a new police law,” political analyst Ricardo Alves said.
“Brazil has a history of police violence, and if you go back to the days of the military, then the police is not a political party.
They’re a political organization.”
But critics say the law will only make matters worse.
“Temer is now using the law as a political tool to try and suppress the protest movement,” Paulo Rizal, an activist and political analyst, told The Associated Press.
“He is using the current crisis to push his own agenda, which is not to stop protests, but to create a more violent climate.”
The law does not go into effect until December.