Social Justice & Action
Bolsonaro’s handling of COVID-19 ‘a crime against humanity’
The Brazilian Senate has recommended that President Jair Bolsonaro be tried for his handling of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Bolsonaro has attracted worldwide notoriety for his COVID-19 scepticism and irresponsible behaviour during the pandemic, when he organised large gatherings of his supporters – without masks – and disparaged scientists and public health officials during the most intense periods of the outbreak.
The Senate report said Bolsonaro’s insistence on treatment with the discredited anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was “practically the only government policy to fight the pandemic”.
It described his actions as a “crime against public health”.
Bolsonaro’s abysmal handling of COVID-19 has resulted in 680,000 excess deaths in Brazil, according to calculations by The Economist.
The Senate committee’s six-month investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic called for prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime, to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity.
More than 65 others are implicated in the report and could also face criminal proceedings.
The decision on whether to prosecute the president will be up to Prosecutor General Augusto Aras, a Bolsonaro appointee who is widely viewed as protecting him. The allegation of crimes against humanity would need to be pursued by the international criminal court.
Bolsonaro’s approval ratings plummeted during the Senate hearings – from 33 per cent to 22 per cent. During the six months the proceedings were broadcast live, half a million viewers regularly tuned in.
‘The Senate report described Bolsonaro’s actions as a “crime against public health.’