The UN rights chief decried Thursday that President Jair Bolsonaro had stepped up his attacks on Brazil’s judiciary and voting system ahead of October elections, warning of the threat to democracy.
Michelle Bachelet, who concludes her term as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights next week, lamented that Bolsonaro “has intensified his attacks on the judiciary and the electronic voting system”.
Especially concerning are his calls for his supporters “to protest against judicial institutions”, she told journalists during her final press conference in office, insisting this was “really not a good decision”.
“Heads of state should respect other powers, should respect the judicial power, should respect the legislative power,” said Bachelet, herself a two-time former Chilean president.
Her comments came amid fears that Brazil’s far-right leader, lagging in opinion polls, might not respect the outcome of October’s vote given his repeated attempts to cast doubt on Brazil’s electoral system.
Voters in Brazil cast their ballots electronically at voting stations, but Bolsonaro has long argued for a paper printout to be made of each vote cast, suggesting the absence of a paper trail enables cheating.
He has not provided evidence of fraud, and the Superior Electoral Court insists the system is fair and transparent.
His repeated attacks have led analysts to caution he might refuse to accept defeat like his former US counterpart Donald Trump, whose supporters stormed the Capitol after he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
“It is essential for a president… to ensure democracy and to respect the different powers,” Bachelet said, stressing that was especially true “in the middle of an election.”
“You can not agree with decisions of other powers… and you can say you don’t agree with them if it is needed, but you respect them,” she insisted.
“You don’t do things that can increase violence or hate against democratic institutions.”
Beyond her criticism of Bolsonaro’s actions, Bachelet said she was “really concerned by reports of increased political violence, continued structural racism and shrinking civic space in Brazil.”
“I feel that attacks against the legislature and candidates, particularly those of African descent, women and LGBTI people, are of concern.” (AFP)