Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Group urges international court to probe Brazil’s president

Published:Friday | November 29, 2019 | 12:19 AM
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro waves during a Changing of the Guard a the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, yesterday.


A group of Brazilian lawyers and former ministers have requested that the International Criminal Court investigate President Jair Bolsonaro for allegedly inciting the genocide of indigenous people and failing to safeguard the forests and protected lands they live in.

They described in a press conference Thursday what they said were “widespread, systematic attacks” on indigenous tribes under the Bolsonaro administration, which is seeking to promote economic development in the Amazon often at the expense of environmental regulation.

The document the group sent to the court includes 33 actions and comments from Bolsonaro, said Eloísa Machado de Almeida, a law professor at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas university in Sao Paulo, who presented the details of the request.

The allegations range from the president’s vocal support of small-scale illegal mining in protected areas, to his criticism of some public servants working with environmental and indigenous affairs, and the data they produce.

Bolsonaro’s office declined to comment.

Experts say The Hague-based International Criminal Court receives thousands of similar communications each year. Most do not lead to investigations or indictments.

The complaint was co-authored by the Brazil-based Arns Commission for Human Rights Defense, which includes six former Cabinet ministers from previous administrations, as well as lawyers, philosophers, a journalist and an environmentalist.