Left Menu
Development News Edition

Top human rights court finds Brazil responsible in deadly fireworks blast

The top human rights court in the Americas found Brazil guilty of violating victims' rights in a deadly 1998 explosion at a fireworks factory, ordering an overhaul of safety policies at pyrotechnic plants, experts said on Wednesday. The ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, made public on Monday, said the government failed to take any measures to inspect the factory prior to the explosion, considered the worst fireworks accident in Brazilian history.

Reuters | Rio De Janeiro | Updated: 29-10-2020 01:58 IST | Created: 29-10-2020 00:20 IST
Top human rights court finds Brazil responsible in deadly fireworks blast
Representative image Image Credit: Pixabay

The top human rights court in the Americas found Brazil guilty of violating victims' rights in a deadly 1998 explosion at a fireworks factory, ordering an overhaul of safety policies at pyrotechnic plants, experts said on Wednesday.

The ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, made public on Monday, said the government failed to take any measures to inspect the factory prior to the explosion, considered the worst fireworks accident in Brazilian history. The 1998 blast in Santo Antonio de Jesus, in the northeastern state of Bahia, killed 64 people.

Most of the victims were women, four of whom were pregnant, and 23 were children. Six people were injured. The government must pay damages to survivors and families of the dead as well as beef up inspections in fireworks factories, provide social and psychological help to the community and present a progress report on a Senate bill that would improve conditions at firework manufacturers.

"They are euphoric (about the decision)," said Raphaela Lopes of Justiça Global, a legal non-profit that represented the families. "This event has deeply scarred that community, especially because of the lack of support from the state."

As the judicial arm of the 35-member Organization of American States, the court hears cases of human rights abuses in Latin America and can order governments to investigate crimes and compensate victims. In a statement, Brazil's government denied being negligent and did not confirm if it would comply with the court's sentence.

"The Brazilian State is evaluating the measures to be adopted and does not comment on the procedural strategy," said the office of Brazil's attorney general in a statement. Experts said they believe Brazil will comply with the ruling, as it has in the past, but that the payment of damages will happen much sooner than substantive policy changes such as increased inspections.

"It depends on the political will of a government that in theory is expected to respect human rights," said Beatriz Galli, a director at Center for Justice and International Law, a non-profit. The families of victims and the survivors - who have waited 22 years for a settlement - will be paid damages of more than $100,000 per family.

Given the demographics and socioeconomics of the region, the production of fireworks in Bahia employs many women, most of whom are Black, said Sonia Marise Tomasoni, a researcher at Bahia's state university that studies fireworks production in the region. The making of fireworks is often informal, with workers paid low wages for dangerous work in remote areas where labor inspections are rare.

"Conditions have improved since the accident," said Tomasoni. "But it still is an activity that puts women and children at risk."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...

Videos

Latest News

An emergency vehicle drives past the wind-driven Bond Fire wildfire near Lake Irvine in Orange County, California

An emergency vehicle drives past the wind-driven Bond Fire wildfire near Lake Irvine in Orange County, California, U.S., December 3, 2020. ...

Protest over agrarian law, in Villacuri

Agricultural workers gather whilst blocking the Panamericana Sur highway during a protest over a long-standing but controversial agrarian law, in Villacuri, Peru December 2, 2020. ...

Arecibo Observatory's telescope collapses

Arecibo Observatorys telescope collapses, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico....

Lauren Caballero, candidate for Avanzada Progresista party talk with inhabitants of the low-income neighborhood of Marapa in La Guaira

Lauren Caballero, candidate for Avanzada Progresista party talk with inhabitants of the low-income neighborhood of Marapa in La Guaira, Venezuela November 28, 2020. ...

Give Feedback