HRW accuses Bolsonaro of threatening democracy in Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro during an act in Brasilia on November 10, 2021 – AFP/Arquivos

President Jair Bolsonaro threatens democracy in Brazil with his attempts to “shatter” confidence in the electoral and judicial systems in the run-up to October’s general elections, warned the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual report released on Thursday. fair (13).

“Bolsonaro represented a major setback in the evolution of Brazilian democracy,” said Kenneth Roth, director of HRW, at a virtual press conference during the presentation of the report on the Latin American giant in São Paulo.

The organization accused the president of trying to weaken the “pillars of democracy” by attacking the Federal Supreme Court, which is conducting four criminal investigations against him, and of repeating “baseless allegations of electoral fraud” a few months before the presidential elections.

“With the presidential elections of October 2022 approaching, Brazilian democratic institutions must protect the rights to vote and freedom of expression from any attempt to subvert the electoral system or weaken the rule of law and fundamental freedoms by the president” , says the report.

Bolsonaro launched a campaign last year against the current electronic voting system in Brazil, which he questions – without evidence – for allegedly running the risk of fraud.

The head of state even declared that he will refuse to concede an eventual defeat and that “only God” will remove him from power if he loses in a campaign for former president Lula, favorite in the polls, despite not having made his candidacy official yet. .

HRW also denounced that the Brazilian government sought to send “at least 17 critics” of his administration to prison, using a national security law enacted during the Military Dictatorship (1964-1985) and which was revoked by Congress in August.

The director of HRW Brazil, Maria Laura Canineu, criticized the “disastrous policy in relation to the pandemic”, minimized by the president and which leaves more than 620,000 dead in the country, a number surpassed only by the United States, as well as the deforestation of the Amazon, the highest since 2006.

“The Bolsonaro government has promoted policies contrary to human rights in other areas, including the rights of indigenous peoples, women’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities and freedom of expression,” the document reads.

The report warns that police killings have reached a record number, with more than 6,400 killed in 2020, the latest year for which data is available. Of the total number of victims, 80% were black.

The number, consolidated by the Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP), is the highest since the beginning of the records.

“While some police killings are self-defense, many others are the result of the illegal use of force,” says HRW.

Canineu lamented the impunity in these cases and accused Bolsonaro of “never condemning police violence and even inciting it”.

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