Global Unions denounce Bolsonaro before the ICC for genocide and crimes against humanity

Health workers have lodged a complaint, backed by PSI and UNI Global, before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, accusing the Brazilian president of negligence and disregard for the pandemic that has already infected 2 million people and killed almost 100,000 in the country. Four of the five national federations representing health workers are affiliated to PSI.

In a 64-page document, health unions, national trade union centers and Brazilian social movements denounce President Jair Bolsonaro's attitude of "contempt, neglect and negationism" which has "brought about disastrous consequences, with a subsequent increase in propagation, a total strangulation of health services, without even the minimum conditions to provide assistance to the population, resulting in deaths without further controls”.

The complaint, filed by the Brazilian Trade Union Network UNISaúde on Sunday night (26 July), is signed, among others, by global unions PSI and UNI Global; by national trade union centers CUT, UGT, NCST; by Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST), by the Quilombola and indigenous movements. Among the five national signatories that represent health workers, four are affiliated to PSI: the National Confederation of Workers in Social Security of CUT (CNTSS/CUT), the National Confederation of Health Workers (CNTS), Confederation of Workers in the Federal Public Service (CONDSEF) and the National Federation of Nurses (FNE).

Unions in Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo, Alagoas, Amazonas, Bahia, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Sergipe, several affiliated to PSI, have also signed the document (see the complete list here).

Jocelio Drummond PSI Regional Secretary for Inter-America

The difference between this and other complaints against the Bolsonaro (mis)government is that it is spearheaded by health professionals’ unions

"The difference between this and other complaints against the Bolsonaro (mis)government is that it is spearheaded by health professionals’ unions," says Jocelio Drummond, PSI Regional Secretary for Inter-america. "It is unacceptable, according to a survey we made of our affiliates, that 60 percent of health workers do not have PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] or adequate training to deal with the pandemic. This has led us to be among the three countries with the most deaths of health workers in the world”.

"The Bolsonaro administration should be held accountable for its callous response to the pandemic and for refusing to protect health workers and the Brazilian people it has sworn to defend," says Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas. "Filing a case with the International Criminal Court is a drastic measure, but Brazilians face an extremely dire and dangerous situation created by Bolsonaro’s deliberate decisions”.

In the complaint to the Court, the signatories request that:

  • a) the complaint be received and processed by investigating the crime against humanity perpetrated by Mr. Jair Messias Bolsonaro and subsequently instigating the competent criminal proceedings;

  • b) the Federal Government be requested to provide the necessary information regarding the allegations made herein;

  • c) the accused Jair Messias Bolsonaro, be called to give personal testimony, under threat of subpoena if he refuses;

  • d) after regular processing, these criminal actions be judged in order to condemn Jair Messias Bolsonaro for crimes against humanity (genocide), for acting against and in opposition of all recommendations by health authorities, both international and local; for irresponsibly exposing Brazilian citizens to COVID-19 contagion, and thus to the possibility of death or incurable consequences with a greater impact on those in a state of vulnerability (poor and black), indigenous peoples, custodians and employees of the prison system and, with greater rigour and suffering, the health workers, with evident possibility of death risk or irreversible sequelae.