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Brazil Court Fines Bolsonaro Gov’t Over ‘Offensive’ Public Statements ‘Discriminating’ Against Women

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Among the “offensive” statements cited in the filed lawsuit are remarks by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro himself against journalists, some of them of a sexual nature, as well as those attributed to the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, and Damares Alves, Minister of Human Rights, Family and Women.

A Brazilian federal judge has ruled to sanction the government of President Jair Bolsonaro for its “repeated” statements that are “discriminatory against women,” attributed to both the president and several of his ministers, reported Brazilian media on Friday.

The ruling, which can still be appealed, establishes that the Government must pay a fine for collective moral damages to women’s movements, estimated at five million reais (one million dollars), while also allocate double that amount to promote official awareness campaigns against domestic violence and sexual harassment.

MARIANA GREIF

People participate in a protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cuiaba, Brazil, June 19, 2021.

The decision, announced by Judge Ana Lúcia Petri, followed a lawsuit filed last August by the Federal Public Ministry. The ruling determined that the aforementioned statements of a “discriminatory nature in relation to women have caused negative consequences for the entire Brazilian society and moral damages of collective dimensions”. The remarks were deemed an unconstitutional abuse of the freedom of expression in the performance of state power.

Listed in the lawsuit were statements by Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes, Minister of Human Rights, Family and Women Damares Alves, other government officials, and President Jair Bolsonaro himself.

Inflammatory Remarks, ‘Sexual Innuendo’

The latter referenced the political leader’s numerous controversial remarks targeting women, as well as gay people and other minorities that have raised eyebrows and concerns. Some were aimed at journalists and were of a sexual nature.

“I’ve got five kids but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and it came out as a girl,” Bolsonaro told an audience at the Clube Hebraica in Sao Paulo in April 2017.

In an exchange with congresswoman Maria do Rosario in Brazil’s lower house in 2014 Bolsonaro was cited as saying: “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.”

Rosario later argued his comments had encouraged sexual assault. In a subsequent newspaper interview, Bolsonaro said Rosario was “not worth raping; she is very ugly”.

On 6 July 2019 the President said that Brazil is a “virgin that every foreign pervert wants”, as he discussed the process of demarcation of indigenous lands and deforestation in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro was earlier accused of inciting hatred towards LGBT people after declaring the South American country should not become a “gay tourism paradise”.

“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life… But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise,” Bolsonaro reportedly told journalists in the capital, Brasília, in 2019, according to the magazine Exame.

Earlier in the year, a Brazilian court ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to pay compensation to a journalist after making degrading comments about her. In 2020 Bolsonaro had suggested Patrícia Campos Mello, award-winning reporter for Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, had offered sex to a source for negative information about him. Campos Mello later hailed the judge’s decision as a “victory for all of us women”.

In the case of Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor, one of the statements considered “discriminatory” by the court referred to the “submission” that, according to the minister, a woman should show towards a man, in remarks made by the minister at a hearing held in the Chamber of Deputies.
As for Brazil’s Economic Affairs Minister, he described Brigitte Macron, wife of the French President Emmanuel Macron, as “really ugly”.

“The President said it, and it’s true. That woman is really ugly,” said Paulo Guedes, following uncomplimentary comments by the Brazilian President himself that had aroused indignation in France and in Brazil.



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Delta COVID Variant Reportedly Draws Biden’s Attention, Resources Away From Other Priorities

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Despite high overall rates of vaccinations in the US, more and more Americans are getting infected with the new, rapidly spreading ‘delta’ variant of the coronavirus, once again testing the limits of hospitals and reportedly sparking talks about new mask-up orders from authorities.

The rapidly increasing number of new COVID-19 cases in the US caused by the more infectious delta strain of the virus is frustrating the Biden administration, as the problem draws attention and resources away from other priorities that the White House would like to concentrate on, the Washington Post reported, citing several anonymous sources. Among the problems that the administration reportedly had to de-prioritise are Biden’s infrastructure initiatives, voting rights, an overhaul of policing, gun control and immigration.

The White House reportedly hoped that the pandemic would be gradually ebbing by this time, allowing it to focus more on other presidential plans. Instead, the Biden administration is growing “anxious” about the growing number of daily COVID-19 cases, the newspaper sources said. The White House press secretary indirectly confirmed that Biden is currently preoccupied with the pandemic the most.

“Getting the pandemic under control [and] protecting Americans from the spread of the virus has been [and] continues to be his number-one priority. It will continue to be his priority moving forward. There’s no question,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on 22 July.

The administration had reportedly expected new outbreaks in the country, but not as many as they’re seeing. Current analytical models predict anything between a few thousand new cases and 200,000 new infected daily, the Washington Post reported. Washington also fears that daily deaths might reach over 700 per day, up from the current average of 250. However, the White House doesn’t expect the pandemic numbers to return to their 2020 peak levels.

At the same time, the Biden administration is trying to find scapegoats to blame for the current shortcomings in fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Namely, Biden  last week accused the social media platform of failing to combat the spread of disinformation on COVID-19 and thus “killing people”. The statement raised many eyebrows since many platforms mark COVID-related posts and insert links to reliable sources of information regarding the disease and the vaccination efforts aimed at fighting it. The White House also hinted that the Republican-controlled states became the main sources of new COVID cases, while often underperforming in terms of vaccination rates.



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Sierra Leone abolishes death penalty | Global development

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Sierra Leone has become the latest African state to abolish the death penalty after MPs voted unanimously to abandon the punishment.

On Friday the west African state became the 23rd country on the continent to end capital punishment, which is largely a legacy of colonial legal codes. In April, Malawi ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, while Chad abolished it in 2020. In 2019, the African human rights court ruled that mandatory imposition of the death penalty by Tanzania was “patently unfair”.

Of those countries that retain the death penalty on their statute books, 17 are abolitionist in practice, according to Amnesty International.

A de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty has existed in Sierra Leone since 1998, after the country controversially executed 24 soldiers for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt the year before.

Under Sierra Leone’s 1991 constitution, the death penalty could be prescribed for murder, aggravated robbery, mutiny and treason.

Last year, Sierra Leone handed down 39 death sentences, compared with 21 in 2019, according to Amnesty, and 94 people were on death row in the country at the end of last year.

Rhiannon Davis, director of the women’s rights group AdvocAid, said: “It’s a huge step forward for this fundamental human right in Sierra Leone.

“This government, and previous governments, haven’t chosen to [put convicts to death since 1998], but the next government might have taken a different view,” she said.

“They [prisoners] spend their life on death row, which in effect is a form of torture as you have been given a death sentence that will not be carried out because of the moratorium, but you constantly have this threat over you as there’s nothing in law to stop that sentence being carried out.”

Davis said the abolition would be particularly beneficial to women and girls accused of murdering an abuser.

“Previously, the death penalty was mandatory in Sierra Leone, meaning a judge could not take into account any mitigating circumstances, such as gender-based violence,” she said.

Umaru Napoleon Koroma, deputy minister of justice, who has been involved in the abolition efforts, said sentencing people on death row to “life imprisonment with the possibility of them reforming is the way to go”.

Across sub-Saharan Africa last year Amnesty researchers recorded a 36% drop in executions compared with 2019 – from 25 to 16. Executions were carried out in Botswana, Somalia and South Sudan.

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[Ticker] EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021

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The European Commission announced it is on track to share some 200 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19 before the end of the year. It says the vaccines will go to low and middle-income countries. “We will be sharing more than 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines with low and middle-income countries by the end of this year,” said European commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

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