“Crimes against nature are crimes against humanity. Jair Bolsonaro is fueling the mass destruction of the Amazon with eyes wide open and in full knowledge of the consequences, “ AllRise founder Johannes Wesemann said in a statement. ”The ICC has a clear duty to investigate environmental crimes of such global gravity.”
It is not the first time opponents of the right wing Brazilian leader have asked the ICC to intervene.
Two years ago, a group of Brazilian lawyers and former ministers requested that the court investigate Bolsonaro for allegedly inciting the genocide of indigenous people and failing to safeguard the forests and protected lands they live in.
The court's prosecution office receives hundreds of such filings each year, detailing alleged crimes around the world. It is obliged to study them all and evaluate whether the request falls within the court's jurisdiction and, if it does, whether it merits further investigation or inclusion in one of the prosecution office's ongoing probes.
Activists are increasingly pushing for prosecution of crimes against the environment to become part of the ICC's core mission. In June a panel of international lawyers and experts published a proposed legal definition of the crime of “ecocide,” saying that it is time to extend the court's founding treaty to include “protections for serious environmental harm, already recognized to be a matter of international concern.”
Before Bolsonaro took office in 2019, the Brazilian Amazon hadn’t recorded a year with more than 10,000 square kilometers of deforestation in over a decade. Between 2009 and 2018, the average per year was 6,500 square kilometers compared with the average of 10,500 square kilometers during Bolsonaro’s term.
But preliminary figures released last month by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research showed that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped for the second consecutive month in August compared to the same period in 2020.
Wesemann, however, insists Bolsonaro needs to be held accountable for Amazon communities and for the world.
“Our initiative has strong Brazilian support, but we don’t seek to speak on behalf of any Brazilian communities, nor claim to represent them," he said. "Our case aims to add an important international dimension to their struggle. The Amazon is theirs, but it is needed by us all.”
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2021 file photo, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a housing program launch ceremony at the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil. A group of climate lawyers called Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 for the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation into Brazil's president for possible crimes against humanity for his administration's Amazon policies. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, file)
Credit: Eraldo Peres
Credit: Eraldo Peres