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President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took an important step to strengthen protections for environmental defenders across Brazil. Escaju Agreement May 11 for congressional approval. This historic treaty – the first of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean – will help to enhance Brazil’s role in protecting the environment and its protectors.

The agreement in Brasilia had been gathering dust for years. Neither the president who signed it in 2018, Michel Temer, nor Jair Bolsonaro, who followed, sent it to Congress for ratification. In January, Human Rights Watch addressed the issue in meetings with several ministers in the new Lula administration, who expressed their support. after a appeal From over 140 organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Lula eventually sent it to legislators.

Brazilian lawmakers now have the opportunity to offer their constituents a treaty that would increase transparency in environmental decision-making by promoting access to information and public participation. This would be a major change after years of policy making bypassing NGOs sabotaged environmental law enforcement in Brazil with disastrous consequences for the environment and its defenders.

The agreement would also require the Brazilian government to take measures to prevent, investigate and enforce sanctions. attack Against environmental defenders this would be an invaluable commitment on the part of a country where indigenous peoples, small farmers and other environmental activists have faced peril. assault Groups benefiting from impunity from destruction of the environment.

Lula’s decision to send the treaty to Brazil’s Congress came three weeks after countries that had ratified the accord in Buenos Aires. second conference of the parties, Brazil joined as an observer. During the meeting, Brazil’s Environment Minister Marina Silva reiterated the country’s commitments to halt all deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, address climate change, and strengthen democracy.

The Congress should also play its part by quickly ratifying the Escaju Accord. Support for greater government transparency, access to information, and stronger protections for Brazil’s environmental heritage must come from all political parties.

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