The Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) filed a statement before the International Criminal Court (ICC) Aug. 9 requesting an investigation into genocide and crimes against humanity committed by President Jair Bolsonaro. The complaint centers on “systematic anti-indigenous” policies enacted by Bolsonaro since his term began in January 2019, and deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic. APIB claims that Bolsonaro’s government has dismantled protections for indigenous communities and their territories, resulting in increased invasion of indigenous lands and consequential deforestation, fires, and illegal mining. The complaint further charges that Bolsonaro has directly encouraged attacks against indigenous peoples, and refused to demarcate new indigenous territories.
Stated APIB legal coordinator Eloy Terena: “We believe there are acts in progress in Brazil that constitute crimes against humanity, genocide and ecocide. Given the inability of the justice system in Brazil to investigate, prosecute and judge these conducts, we denounce them to the international community, throughout the International Criminal Court.”
To succeed in its claim of crimes against humanity, APIB must establish under Article 7 of the Rome Statute that Bolsonaro’s policies constitute a systematic attack directed at Brazil’s indigenous peoples with the aim of extermination, persecution, or inhumane acts causing serious injury to physical or mental health. APIB’s claim of genocide under Article 6 must demonstrate deliberate infliction of conditions aimed at the destruction of indigenous peoples.
The statement was written by several indigenous leaders, organizations, and academics, and was supported by the Lawyers Collective on Human Rights (CADHu). If the case is accepted, it will mark the first time in history that indigenous peoples stand before the ICC, supported by indigenous attorneys.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan is now to decide whether to pursue the case.
From Jurist, Aug. 10. Used with permission.
Note: President Jair Bolsonaro has largely gutted and defunded Brazil’s environmental regulatory, protection and enforcement agencies, and has issued a raft of measures to roll back indigenous land rights. CADHu submitted a similar recommendation to the ICC’s then-chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2019. Legal experts earlier this year presented a legal definition of the crime of ecocide to the ICC.