Charges against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro have been filed before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) for deforestation of the Amazon, it was announced Tuesday.
Austrian Non-Government Organization AllRise is behind the legal initiative. The group considers Bolsonaro should be held accountable for accelerating deforestation in the Amazon, which constitutes a crime against humanity.
The case has been labelled The planet vs. Bolsonaro and it seeks to establish Bolsonaro's actions as well as those by his administration represents an attack against the Amazon but also against all humanity, AllRise has claimed.
They are the lungs of our planet, so their destruction affects us all. In the complaint we presented evidence that shows how Bolsonaro's actions have a direct connection with the negative consequences of climate change around the world, explained AllRise founder Johannes Wesemann.
The NGO is backed by prestigious lawyers such as Maud Sarlieve and Nigel Povoas, in addition to climatologist Friederike Otto, who is one of the authors of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in August.
AllRise claims emissions can be linked to the Bolsonaro government's decisions on deforestation, which will allegedly cause 180,000 additional deaths this century, due to the increase in temperatures. Brazil's Government is also believed to have systematically [sought] to eliminate, mutilate and empty of content the laws, organizations and individuals that protected the Amazon.
The Austrian group also holds Bolsonaro responsible for the loss of about 4,000 square kilometres of Amazon rainforest per year and monthly increases in the deforestation rate of up to 88 per cent, since he took office in 2019.
According to the report attached to the complaint, deforestation in that part of Brazil causes more CO2 to be released into the atmosphere than the Amazon can absorb.
Crimes against nature are crimes against humanity, AllRise stressed. Jair Bolsonaro is promoting the massive destruction of Amazonia with full knowledge of the consequences, the complaint pointed out.
The ICC prosecutor's office has considered since 2016 that the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the grabbing of land may constitute crimes against humanity, it was explained.
Since Bolsonaro took office, indigenous Brazilians have filed three complaints against him before the ICC for ecocide or genocide as well as for his management of coronavirus pandemic.
This new complaint is said to be the first to link deforestation with an impact on health on a global scale.
Created in 2002, the ICC does not have the obligation to study the thousands of complaints filed before its prosecutor by individuals or groups. The prosecution can independently decide which cases to refer to the court judges and the judges then decide whether to open a formal investigation.
Wesemann also stressed that the objective of the complaint was not to speak on behalf of Brazilians but to show the seriousness of massive deforestation at a global scale.