- Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has approved a law criticized by the left-wing government as an instrument of genocide.
- This is intended to limit the designation of protected areas for indigenous people.
- 283 MPs voted in favor of the initiative on Tuesday, 155 against.
The approval in the Chamber of Deputies was seen as a defeat for the government. The text will now go to the Senate for confirmation before being presented to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who can still veto it.
Criticism gets loud
The law provides that only land inhabited by indigenous peoples on the day the constitution was promulgated, October 5, 1988, can be designated as a protected area.
Critics complain that indigenous peoples would then no longer be able to get back tribal areas from which they were previously expelled. In addition, invaders who had to give back indigenous lands could claim compensation.
Indigenous people speak of “lawful genocide”
Furthermore, in the future there could be a legal basis for contacting isolated indigenous peoples, for example to “enforce government measures of public benefit.”
Australia wants to give Aborigines more rights
Australia is also currently discussing the rights of indigenous people. In contrast to Brazil, they should have more rights there. In the future, a committee made up of indigenous Australians will advise the government on questions relating to the indigenous population. Aborigines should be able to determine who is represented on this body.
This requires a constitutional amendment. The Australian House of Representatives has now approved this change with a large majority. Next, the other Chamber of Parliament discusses it. However, the Australian population has the last word and will probably vote on it in the autumn.
The Minister for Indigenous Peoples, Sônia Guajajara, criticized the legislative initiative. “The project constitutes lawful genocide because it directly affects isolated peoples. It allows third parties access to areas inhabited by people who have not yet had any contact with society,” she said.