Jair Bolsonaro may be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court (ICC) after being charged with crimes against humanity.
Indigenous Brazilian leaders and human rights groups have called on the court to investigate the President of Brazil for the dismantling of environmental policies and the infringement of indigenous peoples’ rights.
William Bourdon, a Paris-based lawyer, submitted a request for preliminary examination to a court in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Friday. The Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, then determines if there is a reason for the investigation into Bolsonaro.
There is no deadline for the decision, but “it’s a very urgent matter,” Bourdon said. “Given the devastation of the Amazon, we are running against time.”
Since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, vast rainforests have been destroyed and traditional communities have been threatened. Deforestation has skyrocketed by nearly 50% in two years, reaching its highest level since 2008. Indigenous territorial invasion increased by 135% in 2019, with at least 18 people killed in land conflicts last year.
Nonetheless, fines for environmental crime fell 42% in the Amazon basin in 2019, and the federal government cut its execution budget by 27.4% this year, the report said.
“The scenario is getting worse, but the government is reducing enforcement,” said Marcio Astrini, secretary-general of the Climate Observatory, a group of NGOs behind the report. “It’s scary to see a coordinated attack on climate, forests, and their people.”
Since its founding in 2002, UN-backed courts have primarily ruled cases of genocide and war crimes. However, after facing criticism, in 2016 it decided to assess crime in a broader context, including major environmental and cultural crimes.
Bolson believes that the case could lead to the Ecocide Bolsonaro Sustainable Trial. This is a term defined as having serious and lasting harm to the environment and people. The lawyer filed a proceeding on behalf of the indigenous chiefs Almir Suruí and Raoni Metuktire.
Several members of US, Brazilian and French NGOs and lawyers have also worked on a 68-page report explaining what they claim to be crimes against humanity. This includes cases of indigenous Brazilian murder, deportation and persecution.
Laoni is famous for its battles to protect the Amazon rainforest and indigenous cultures. The 91-year-old chief of the Kayapo people is now isolated in his village on the territory of the Xingu indigenous people due to a coronavirus pandemic.
Patxon Metuktire, a 35-year-old grandson, has followed him for the past year in search of help from the international community. “My grandfather thought it was important to file a complaint because the head of the country needed to protect the community, but he didn’t.
“People feel that they are in favor of committing a crime because the president is in favor of crime,” Patxon added. “My grandfather believes that the Brazilian population cannot stop the president from acting on indigenous peoples. This is our last resort as he continues to violate our rights. Grandfather is ready to testify and clarify something for the prosecutor as needed. “
Scientists warn that Bolsonaro’s devastating policies could push the Amazon rainforest to an irreversible turning point, turning the rainforest belt into a savanna. This will make it impossible to control climate change.
“Bolsonaro has become a global issue, not only because it is an indigenous risk, but because what he does here affects the planet,” said Sonia Guajahara, leader of the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples Association. I am. “He is committing crimes against the people of the forest and the environment one after another.”
In November 2019, Brazilian activists submitted a “useful note” at the ICC, claiming that Bolsonaro encouraged genocide against indigenous peoples. More than a year later, the prosecution said it was analyzing the case and deciding whether to open the prosecution.
Eloísa Machado, a member of the Brazilian human rights defender who worked on the proceedings, welcomed the case filed by Bourdon. “Bolsonaro has his behavior currently under analysis, even if preliminary,” she said.
The process is still in its infancy, but Machado said it was an important sign from The Hague. “The facts reported are serious and the public prosecutor’s office has shown to be sensitive to this issue.”
Jair Bolsonaro may be prosecuted for Amazon rainforest in The Hague | Jair Bolsonaro
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