Brazil: Bolsonaro's toxic speech must not become government policy
Reacting to the election of Jair Bolsonaro and Hamilton Mourão as president and vice president of Brazil, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International said:
“The president-elect has campaigned with an openly anti-human-rights agenda and frequently made discriminatory statements about different groups of society.
“His election as Brazil´s president could pose a huge risk to Indigenous Peoples and quilombolas, traditional rural communities, LGBTI people, black youth, women, activists and civil society organizations, if his rhetoric is transformed in public policy.
“With the electoral process now over, we all face the challenge of protecting human rights for everyone in Brazil.”
Bolsonaro’s campaign promises include loosening gun control laws and granting prior authorisation for law enforcement officials to kill. These proposals, if adopted, would worse the already dire context of lethal violence in Brazil, where there are 63,000 homicides each year, more than 70% of them from firearms, and police commit approximately 5,000 homicides a year, many of which are indeed extrajudicial executions.
Moreover, Bolsonaro has threatened Indigenous Peoples’ territories, to change land demarcation processes and to authorise major natural resource exploitation projects. He has also spoken about relaxing environmental regulations and criticised Brazil's environmental protection agencies, thus endangering the right of all people to a healthy environment.
Brazil has one of the highest rates of killings of human rights defenders and activists in the world, with dozens killed every year for defending rights that should be guaranteed by the state. In this grave context, the president-elect’s statements about putting an end to activism and clamping down on organised social movements present a very likely risk to the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed by national and international law.
Bolsonaro and Mourão, who are both members of Brazil’s military reserve, have also publicly defended state crimes committed under the former military regime, including torture. This raises the prospect of a regression in the promotion of human rights, since the end of the military regime and the adoption of the Federal Constitution of 1988.
Erika Guevara-Rosas said:
“Brazil’s public institutions must take firm and decisive action to protect human rights and all those who defend and mobilise for rights in the country. These institutions have a key role to play in protecting the rule of law and preventing the proposals from materialising.
“The international community will remain vigilant in holding the Brazilian state to its obligations to protect and guarantee human rights.”