Punish deforestation as a crime: Bolsonaro threatens environmental lawsuit in The Hague

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil continues to shrink. This is due to human deforestation. Environmentalists from Austria hold President Bolsonaro personally responsible for this and take action before the International Criminal Court – for “crimes against humanity”.

The Austrian climate protection organization Allrise wants to sue Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro for the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The climate protection activists filed the complaint with the title “The planet against Bolsonaro” in The Hague. You accuse the right-wing extremist head of state of “crimes against humanity” because of his Amazon policies.

Allrise assumes that the Brazilian government is responsible for the deforestation of around 4,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest each year and that the deforestation rate has increased by 88 percent since Bolsonaro took office. Bolsonaro has “systematically” weakened or eliminated laws and controls by the authorities and is taking targeted action against environmental activists. This is “directly related to the negative effects of climate change all over the world,” explained the organization, which refers in particular to the climate researcher Friederike Otto from University College London.

Otto is one of the main authors of the latest IPCC special climate report, which warns of the dramatic consequences of climate change. “This is exactly (…) the definition of crimes against humanity: the deliberate destruction of the environment and its defenders,” said Allrise founder Johannes Wesemann.

It is not the first lawsuit against Bolsonaro before the ICC. In January, the Brazilian chief Raoni Metuktire also accused the president of “crimes against humanity”: Bolsonaro was persecuting the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region, destroying their residential areas and violating their fundamental rights.

In July 2020, Brazilian health workers sued Bolsonaro for handling the corona pandemic in The Hague. Again, the charge was “crimes against humanity”. However, the Hague Court is not required to actually initiate an investigation.