Brazil's Bolsonaro Accused of 'Crimes Against Humanity' Over Coronavirus

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of "crimes against humanity" for the second time in The Hague's International Criminal Court over his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a complaint filed on Sunday, the Brazilian Union Network UNISaúde, which represents tens of thousands of health workers in the country, accused Bolsonaro of "serious and deadly failures" in his leadership on tackling the pandemic.

Bolsonaro's "negligent and irresponsible actions," UNISaúde reportedly said, have "contributed to more than 80,000 deaths," leading to a loss of life that the coalition said amounted to "genocide."

Among the irresponsible actions the coalition said had led to a loss of life in Brazil was Bolsonaro's repeated promotion of hydroxychloroquine, a medication that has not been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients.

In fact, a recent study conducted in Brazil and which saw its findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday specifically found hydroxychloroquine to be ineffective in treating those infected with the virus.

Yet, on Saturday, Bolsonaro once again tweeted out an endorsement of the medication as he announced that he was coronavirus-free more than two weeks, having tested positive for COVID-19 on July 7.

"RT-PCR for Sars-Cov 2: negative. Good morning everyone," the 65-year-old tweeted, sharing a photo of himself giving a thumbs-up while holding up a pack of hydroxychloroquine.

For many, Bolsonaro's endorsement of hydroxychloroquine will come as little surprise, with the Brazilian president facing widespread accusations of leading his country astray during the pandemic.

Brazil is second only to the U.S. globally in numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases.

As of early Monday morning, the country had identified more than 2.4 million coronavirus cases, with 87,004 cases resulting in death, according to an online tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

"The Bolsonaro administration should be held accountable for its callous response to the pandemic and for refusing to protect the care workers and Brazilians that it has sworn to defend," Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas, said in a statement shared with Newsweek.

"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," Monzane said.

UNISaúde's accusations against Bolsonaro are not the first to made in the ICC over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, Bolsonaro was similarly accused of crimes against humanity by the Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy (ABJD) for putting lives at risk amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Newsweek has contacted Brazil's government for comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from UNI Americas.

Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waves as he takes a ride and has his motorcycle's engine overhaul after he announced he tested negative for COVID-19 more than two weeks after testing positive, in Brasilia, on July 25, 2020. SERGIO LIMA/AFP/Getty