GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nation's Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Thursday condemned Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's upcoming rally against judicial institutions, and said the country's human rights situation is "very difficult".
"I think President Bolsonaro has intensified his attacks on the judiciary and electronic voting system, including during a meeting with ambassadors in July which sparked strong reactions, as you know," Bachelet said in a news conference in Geneva, referring to a briefing where Bolsonaro expressed unfounded concern about electoral fraud to diplomats in Brazil.
"That, I think, is more concerning is the president has called his supporters to protest against judicial institutions on 7 September, the day of the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence," she said.
Bolsonaro wants his supporters to attend the rally - taking place less than a month before the presidential election - along Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach. He has also sought to involve the military in the political event.
"You don’t do things that can increase violence or hate against democratic institutions that should be respected and strengthened and not try to undermine them through strong political speech," Bachelet said.
She also slammed Brazil's "very difficult human rights situation", highlighting reports of increased political violence, structured racism and shrinking civic space.
"I feel that attacks against legislators and candidates, particularly those of African descent, women and LGBTI people are of particular concern," the former Chilean president said.
"When a leader starts using a language that can be used in the wrong direction, I think it’s really bad. ... Leaders need to ensure the country is able to progress where dialogue and respect for the other exists because that's what democracy is about,” Bachelet said.
(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Additional reporting and writing by Steven Grattan in Sao Paulo; editing by Jonathan Oatis)