A UN rights court has ruled Brazil's Lula da Silva should be allowed to run for president in October elections. The country's highest electoral court, however, may not see it the same way.
The UN Human Rights Committee on Friday ruled that Brazil's jailed former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could not be disqualified from upcoming presidential elections because his legal appeals are still ongoing.
In a statement, the panel "requested Brazil take all necessary measures to ensure that Lula can enjoy and exercise his political rights while in prison, as [a] candidate in the 2018 presidential elections."
Read more: Who is Brazil's ex-president Lula?
The committee said Lula cannot be disqualified from running "until his appeals before the courts have been completed in fair judicial proceedings" in order to avoid inflicting "irreparable harm" on the 72-year-old.
The committee's ruling came after an urgent request was filed by Lula's lawyers on July 27.
Lula was Brazil's president from 2003-2010. He began serving a 12-year sentence for corruption in April. Despite the conviction, he remains the favorite ahead of October's presidential election where he is the candidate for his Workers Party.
UN committee member Olivier de Frouville told French news agency AFP that Lula's lawyers had asked for urgent action on three issues: that he be immediately freed from jail, that he be granted access to the media and his political party, and that he be allowed to run in the election.
The panel rejected the first request but supported Lula on the two other issues.
Court expected to rule against Lula
The UN panel's announcement came as Brazilian Attorney General Raquel Dodge presented a request to Brazil's top court for election matters, the Superior Electoral Tribunal, to invalidate Lula's candidacy. Dodge asked the court for a speedy decision, given the fast-approaching October 7 election.
The court is expected to rule that Lula cannot run in the election under a "clean slate" law that bans politicians from seeking public office if they have been convicted of a crime and it has been upheld on appeal, which is the case with Lula.
Lula has said his conviction was the result of political persecution and that it is part of a right-wing conspiracy to keep him from regaining the presidency.
Under Brazilian law, Lula is currently allowed free access to his lawyers, who include some top Workers Party members, as well as weekly family visits.
He can communicate in writing, but federal prosecutors say he is barred from making video or audio recordings.
Dilma Rousseff, who succeded Lula in office before she was herself impeached in 2016, offered her support on Twitter, saying: "Lula is innocent."
Brazil says UN ruling not binding
Brazil's government said "the conclusions of the [UN rights] committee have the character of a recommendation and do not have a legally binding effect." The government added that it said it would pass on the committee's findings to the judiciary.
The UN Human Rights Committee monitors member states' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as a supplementary text called the Optional Protocol.
Brazil has ratified both texts, meaning it is technically obligated to abide by the committee's findings.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that Brazil "faithfully complies with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" and that its principles "are also Brazilian constitutional principles applied with zeal and absolute independence by the judiciary."
law/sms (AFP, Reuters)