Jair Bolsonaro, the 38th president of Brazil could face charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “ecocide” and crimes against humanity. Amazon deforestation has spiked a shocking 50% since the far-right President was elected in 2018.
William Bourdon, a French lawyer, has submitted a request on behalf of human rights groups and indigenous leaders in Brazil. It is urging the ICC to investigate President Bolsonaro’s detrimental conduct against environmental policies and indigenous rights. The appeal is submitted to the Chief prosecutor at The Hague to decide if there are grounds to lodge an investigation against the President. The term “ecocide” is defined as causing serious and lasting harm to the environment and people. Bolsonaro has played a massive part in the ecological destruction of the world’s largest rainforest and the indigenous communities living there. In 2019, there was a 135% increase in the invasion of indigenous territories and 18 recorded murders connected to land disputes in these tribal communities in 2020.
Additionally, the dismantling of Brazil’s environmental guidelines is furthered by the budget cut of the government’s enforcement on environmental crimes by 27.4%. This saw the imposition of fines on environmental breaches cut by 42% in 2019. The environmental crisis is worsening to the point of irreversibility soon. World leaders need to be held accountable for the further deterioration of the Earth and thus, an ‘informative note’ was delivered to the ICC by environmental activists.
“A coordinated attack on the climate, the forest and its people.”Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Public Policy Coordinator
An article by Greenpeace lays out the reality of Bolsonaro’s distortion of the environmental crisis he is contributing to. The passionately written article rightfully villanises Bolsonaro and the genocide he has committed against the indigenous and local people in Brazil. Beyond the 19% loss of the Amazon biome, Bolsonaro announced opening the Indigenous Peoples’ land to commercial mining and industrial agriculture.
“For the forest and its people, Bolsonaro is a threat – not the solution.”Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Public Policy Coordinator
On top of the attack on the Amazon and the Indigenous Peoples’ land, the pandemic has proven a further threat to the people and their security. Where they already experience severe socio-economic marginalisation to a high degree, they are now at a disproportionate risk amidst this pandemic, a UN report states. Thus, the indigenous people experience vulnerability on two fronts of public health and fighting for their livelihoods.
Eloísa Machado, a member of Brazil’s Human Rights Advocacy Collective finds that “the facts reported are serious and that the prosecutor’s office is sensitive to the issue” in the early stage of the proceedings. It remains to be seen whether the ICC will investigate President Bolsonaro but as deforestation accelerates, it is becoming clearer that action is desperately needed to save the Amazon and our wildlife.