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Brazil’s highest court suspends vote on indigenous land rights


A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has asked for more time to review a controversial decision that could relax protections on indigenous lands, which could leave the decision to Congress

RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Wednesday asked for more time to consider a controversial ruling that could relax protections on indigenous lands, which could actually leave the decision to Congress.

The Supreme Court is evaluating a decision that invalidated a claim by some indigenous peoples in the state of Santa Catarina over what they say is their ancestral territory. This prompted thousands of indigenous people to travel and organize protests in the capital Brasilia, worried about the precedent the lower court ruling would set.

So far, only two judges have ruled: one in favor of upholding the decision and the other against.

Environmental experts and indigenous activists have said Judge Alexandre de Moraes’ request for review, while not unusual, is likely to pass the buck to Congress. Internal Supreme Court guidelines state that de Moraes has a maximum of 60 days to review the case. But Juliana Batista, a lawyer at the nonprofit Socio-Environmental Institute, said judges rarely meet this deadline.

The lower house is set to vote on a similar bill that would oblige indigenous peoples seeking to fully protect their territories to occupy the lands in 1988, the year in which Brazil’s constitution was signed after the nation returned. to democracy.

Critics of the bill say it would ignore the fact that many were evicted from their ancestral lands, especially during the military dictatorship, or may not have the formal means to prove possession.

Others argue it would provide a legal framework for farmers and ranchers, who are key elements of President Jair Bolsonaro.

There is no fixed date for one floor vote in the lower house.

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ABC News