Michelle Bachelet, the UN Human Rights Chief, on February 27 accused Brazil and the US of “rolling back” on environmental protection, international media reported. However, Bachelet, who is also the former President of Chile, lauded the European Union for taking ambitious action for reducing emissions.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, she said that protection of the environment is fundamental to the enjoyment of all human rights. She further said that the United States was rolling back environmental protections, including for waterways and wetlands. She added that the untreated polluted may now be poured directly into streams and rivers, putting ecosystems, water and human health at risk.
Speaking about Brazil, she pointed to significant rollbacks of policies which protected the environment and indigenous people’s rights under the president Bolsenaro. Bolsenaro, who is a right-wing politician has been globally condemned for easing restrictions on the exploitation of the vast Amazon forests.
However, she praised EU’s leadership for the “Green Deal” plan to finance its goal of making the bloc carbon neutral by 2050. She said that the plan couples ambitious action within the EU with a strong dimension of external action, engaging both climate diplomacy and green cooperation aid. She further said its implementation will greatly advance the enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment and that she encourages strong social measures to ensure that just transitions leave no one behind.
In another statement, Bachelet said that religious minorities in Pakistan continue to face violence and repeated attacks on their places of worship and government's failure to amend the blasphemy law provisions led to violence against them. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, briefing the ongoing 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on human rights developments around the world, mentioned the case of Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer in Pakistan, who has been sentenced to death in December for blasphemy.