Written by Staff Writer by Molly Meyers, CNN
Days after being sworn in as president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of crimes against humanity by two non-governmental organizations at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The allegations, leveled against the hardline politician by Brazil’s Institute for Amnesty International (IAI) and Amnesty International Brazil, came in connection with his position as governor of Rio de Janeiro state between 2003 and 2017.
Bolsonaro took office on March 1.
In a joint statement issued by the IAI and Amnesty International, the NGOs described Bolsonaro’s “executive decree” — one which oversees a large area of wetlands in the Amazon where local people operate as miners and loggers — as “riddled with human rights abuses.”
It goes on to accuse the office of the governor of creating “systemic and abusive measures allowing illegal mining and deforestation in the Isaias de Coari do Sul, which have resulted in the deaths of several indigenous rights leaders.”
The decree also allegedly cuts access to government funds provided to artisanal and small-scale gold miners, which Amnesty International said would “ultimately see the loss of 1,710 square kilometers of territory from the Amazon rainforest, which remains classed as a World Heritage Site.”
Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro (left) and Education Minister Gilberto Carvalho (right) smile as they inaugurate a school in Brasilia on March 16. Credit: Orel Rodrigues/Sipa USA
Jalpa are indigenous people who live in the rubber and salt producing region, in state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in the southern part of Brazil.
Last week Amnesty International released a report that accused Bolsonaro’s office of “undermining” the rights of indigenous people and of attempting to impose what it called “paramilitary justice,” where any complaint is brought to the generals responsible for the region’s military units.
Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony introducing his new cabinet members in Brasilia on March 16. Credit: Adriano Machado/Sipa USA
The army’s former inspector general, Col. S. John Zahir, has since confirmed that he has opened an investigation into Amnesty International’s allegations of human rights violations in the Amazon, citing that it was impossible to know in advance whether the report would be true or not.
Zahir said that it’s normal to receive such reports, but that they’ve created a bias against Brazil.