Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Justice for Brazil?

Brazil has been one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic, with over 21 million confirmed cases and 600,000 deaths. Much of the blame for that can be squarely laid at the feet of its president, Jair Bolsonaro, who put the economy first and let the disease spread unchecked, while opposing mask-wearing and vaccination and denying the disease was serious. Hundreds of thousands died as a result of his choices. And now, Brazil's Senate says he should be prosecuted for it:

The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, should face murder charges for his role in the country’s “stratospheric” coronavirus death toll, a draft report from a senate inquiry into Brazil’s Covid crisis has recommended.

The 1,078-page document, published by Brazilian media on Tuesday afternoon, is not due to be voted on by the commission until next week and could yet be modified by senators.

But the draft text paints a devastating portrait of the neglect, incompetence and anti-scientific denialism many believe has defined the Bolsonaro administration’s response to a public health emergency that has killed more than 600,000 Brazilians.

Bolsonaro’s “deliberate and conscious” decision to delay buying Covid vaccines needlessly condemned thousands of citizens to early graves, the report claims.

Bolsonaro is an extreme case, but he's not the only leader whose deliberate choices or depraved indifference caused mass-death (Boris Johnson is another good example). And these people should be held accountable for those choices, through criminal prosecution under domestic or international law. Its not like its a foreign concept in our constitutional tradition - Charles I was tried and executed for exactly this (his chosen means of causing mass-death being war).

So hopefully Brazil will follow through, and charge and try Bolsonaro. Even if a trial results in an acquittal, it would set a useful precedent for political accountability, and hopefully make politicians more cautious before choosing mass death over saving lives.