Last updated on January 27, 2021
“Pena que a cavalaria brasileira não tenha sido tão eficiente quanto a americana, que exterminou os índios”
“It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.” Jair Bolsanaro via Correio Braziliense newspaper
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsanaro, may face charges for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Brazils indigenous people plead with the ICC to hold the ‘Trump of the tropics’ accountable over environmental rollbacks and violations of their human rights. They describe Bolsanaro’s actions as ecocide, meaning Bolsanaro have willfully harmed the environment. An ecocide is a criminal act that violates environmental justice principles by harming species with damage and willful destruction resulting in species, including humans, suffering serious harm.
To date, ecocide has not been recognized by the United Nations as a punishable crime. The crime was first considered during the 1970s after the United States used napalm in Vietnam’s rainforests.
Currently, there is only one provision in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, related to War Crimes, which explicitly mentions damage to the environment. Article 8(2)(b)(iv) makes it a crime to:
“Intentionally launch an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated”.
Bolsonaros’ crimes and active threats to the vast expanse of Amazonia affect the tribes and their land and threaten the entire planet by pushing the entire biosphere to collapse by eliminating one of the largest carbon sinks on earth.
William Bourdon, a Paris-based lawyer, submitted a request for a preliminary examination to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, on Friday. The chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will then determine whether there are grounds for an investigation against Bolsonaro.
There is no deadline for a decision but “it is a matter of great urgency”, Bourdon said. “We are running against the clock, considering the devastation of the Amazon.”
A new study reveals that Bolsonaro carried out an “institutional strategy to spread #coronavirus” w/ the goal of quickly reopening #Brazil's economy "at any cost". The result is clear: 210,00+ dead. Millions sick. Scathing report @brumelianebrumhttps://t.co/8Fvt1feDSg
— Michael Fox (@mfox_us) January 23, 2021
Bourdon believes this case could lead to Bolsonaro standing trial for ecocide, a term defined as causing serious and lasting harm to the environment and people. The lawyer filed the case on behalf of indigenous chiefs Almir Suruí and Raoni Metuktire.
Several members of NGOs and lawyers from the US, Brazil and France also worked on the 68-page report describing what they claim are crimes against humanity. It includes cases of murder, forced transfer and persecution of indigenous people in Brazil.Raoni is renowned for his fight for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and indigenous culture. The 91-year-old chief of the Kayapo people is currently isolated in his village at the Xingu indigenous territory due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Patxon Metuktire, his 35-year-old grandson, followed him in his quest for help in the international community over the past year: “My grandfather thought it was important to make the complaint because the chief of the nation should protect communities, but he is not doing so.
“People are feeling endorsed to commit crimes, as the president supports them,” Patxon added. “My grandfather believes the Brazilian population cannot make the president stop acting against the indigenous people. He keeps violating our rights, so this is our last resort. My grandfather is ready to testify and clarify anything for prosecutors if needed.”
The UN-backed court has mostly ruled on cases of genocide and war crimes since it was created in 2002. However, after facing criticism it decided in 2016 to assess offences in a broader context, which could include major environmental and cultural crimes.
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