Huge Amazonian conflict brings far-right Brazilian president into ICC spotlight

Written by Staff Writer Human Rights Watch and the Centre for Defense of the Environment (CODEVAC) are to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to open an investigation into Brazil’s far-right President Jair…

Huge Amazonian conflict brings far-right Brazilian president into ICC spotlight

Written by Staff Writer

Human Rights Watch and the Centre for Defense of the Environment (CODEVAC) are to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to open an investigation into Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a new report released by the two organizations revealed.

A statement from Human Rights Watch cited Bolsonaro’s vote against protecting Amazon land and the support of mining and logging companies to remove indigenous people from their ancestral lands as well as his campaign statements supporting the death penalty for rape, calling immigrants “economic terrorists,” and associating indigenous people with terrorism.

“We call on the prosecutor to use the full force of his office to ensure Bolsonaro will be held to account for his actions,” Human Rights Watch’s Americas director José Miguel Vivanco said in a statement.

“Bolsonaro has systematically opposed important court rulings protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups. And if anything, his threats against women, the LGBT community, and other victims of violence and discrimination have only deepened his deep hostility to the rule of law.”

A child stands on the land occupied by indigenous people in the Chupiquí River valley. Despite years of court rulings upholding the people’s rights, Bolsonaro is preparing to hand this land over to powerful mining companies without proper consultation. Credit: Edson Federico Moncayo

The rights organizations argued that Bolsonaro’s track record in Congress includes a long series of votes that “amount to crimes against humanity,” including in 2012 for a law to limit judicial oversight of illegal land seizures and in 2017 for one that favors logging companies in the Amazon.

The latest trend is that Bolsonaro “has developed a special interest” in the Amazon, CODEVAC’s spokesperson Sonia Azevedo said in the statement. “Since he took office in January, Bolsonaro has been more hostile to indigenous people than his previous cabinet.”

The prosecutor general’s office and the Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bolsonaro, who won a decisive victory in October with 59% of the vote, has vowed to implement policies that seek to end political participation in Amazonia and said he would consider amending the landmark 1964-1985 military dictatorship in Brazil’s Constitution to reestablish a law guaranteeing a special legislative role for the military in areas of national defense.

“If it was (the military) we could do them,” Bolsonaro told supporters in November. “If it is we we can do them. All we have to do is amend the Constitution.”

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