The devastation of Brazil's Amazon rainforests has increased dramatically since President Jair Bolsonaro took office - and the damages amount to a crime against humanity as climate change worsens, according to an environmental non-profit that filed a complaint on Tuesday, Oct.12.
Austrian non-profit organization AllRise filed a groundbreaking lawsuit in the Dutch city of The Hague. It asserts that Bolsonaro's and his administration's actions are a "widespread attack on the Amazon, its dependents and its defenders that not only result in the persecution, murder and inhumane suffering in the region, but also upon the global population," the group said in a statement.
The 286-page filing said there were grounds for "an urgent and thorough ICC investigation and prosecution."
The complaint accuses Brazil's president of launching a broad campaign that resulted in the killing of environmental activists and threatening the global population through emissions created by deforestation.
Experts say emissions attributable to the Bolsonaro administration as a result of excessive deforestation will cause over 180,000 extra heat-related fatalities globally this century.
In addition to claiming that crimes against humanity have been committed against people who rely on and work to protect the rainforest, the petition claims that Bolsonaro is responsible for future suffering caused by his Amazon policies.
It alleged that Bolsonaro was responsible for the loss of nearly 400,000 hectares (about 1,500 square miles) of rainforest each year, and that since entering office on Jan. 1, 2019, monthly deforestation rates have escalated by up to 88%.
A request for comment from AFP was not returned by Bolsonaro's office.
While indigenous groups have filed at least three other complaints with the ICC against Bolsonaro since 2016, organizers claim this is the first to draw attention to the clear link between forest loss and global human health.
Bolsonaro boasted in September 2020 that Brazil preserves its environment and said that the Amazon region requires economic development for the welfare of its population.
As flames blazed in the Amazon in 2020, he stated at the United Nations General Assembly podium that foreign operatives were exaggerating the wildfires in "the most brutal misinformation campaign."
Those assertions have been received with suspicion as the country's deforestation and emissions rise.
Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, with forest covering 59% of its territory, much of it the Amazon, which acts as a global "air conditioner," impacting global temperature and rainfall patterns as well as absorbing carbon dioxide.