More than 1,700 murders of environmental activists have been recorded over the past decade, with a killing rate roughly every two days, according to a new report.
At least 1,733 earth and environmental defenders were killed between 2012 and 2021 by killers, organized crime groups and their governments, according to figures from Global Witness, along with Brazil, Colombia and other countries. philippinesMexico and Honduras are the deadliest countries.
The non Governmental Organization It publishes its report on killings of earth and environmental defenders around the world every year since 2012, after the killing of Chut Wutty, Cambodian environmental scientist who worked with Mike Davis, CEO of Global Witness, to investigate illegal logging. hit kill a record 227 In 2020 despite the pandemic.
Wutty has us confronted with a host of questions. What is the global picture, what are the implications of such attacks and what can be done to prevent them? Davis wrote in the report.
The killings disproportionately affected low-income countries and indigenous communities; 39% of the victims were from this demographic, even though they make up only 5% of the world’s population.
Mining, extractive industries, logging, and agribusiness were the most common motives for murder when the cause was known. The report’s authors caution that the numbers are likely to be significantly understated and do not reflect the full scope of the problem, with deaths often occurring in ecosystems critical to avoiding the worst effects of the climate crisis.
200 people were killed in 2021 Eight park rangers included in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Facing the additional threat oil and gas extraction, Environmental activist Joanna Stochburywho was shot outside her home in Kenya, and Angel Miro Cartagena, who was killed in Colombia and was one of 50 smallholder farmers killed last year.
In June this year, the journalist Dom Phillipswho has written extensively for the Guardian and the Observer, and Bruno Pereiraa Brazilian expert on isolated tribes, They were killed in the Javari Valley in the Amazon region of Brazil after losing it. Phillips was working on a book on sustainable development called How to Save the Amazon and Pereira was helping him with interviews. The Investigation of murders continuous.
“It is important to portray these victims as real people. It is easier for me. I have been surrounded by defenders of the earth and the environment all my life, and I am indeed one of them,” Indian ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva wrote in the foreword to the report.
“We’re not just in a climate emergency. We’re at the foot of the sixth mass extinction, and these advocates are some of the few people standing in the way. They don’t deserve to be protected for basic moral reasons only. The future of our species and our planet depends on it,” she said.
However, the report noted that there have been some significant victories for environmental activists. In South Africa last year, indigenous communities on the Wild Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape won a legal victory over Shell, forcing the company to halt oil production. Exploring whale breeding grounds. The The verdict was upheld earlier this month.
In May this year, communities on Sangeh Island, Indonesiasued a Canadian-backed company planning to mine gold on their island after facing an earlier challenge that was disqualified for technical reasons.
Report author Ali Heinz said: “Although the death toll has remained high, one thing I take away from doing this research is that there have been some significant victories for environmentalists over the past few years, including against multinational corporations. huge.” Active in Global Witness.
More than two-thirds of murders of people trying to protect forests, rivers and other ecosystems between 2012 and 2021 occurred in Latin America, with 342 people killed in Brazil and 322 in Colombia. In Mexico, 154 were killed, and 117 in Honduras. The Philippines was another country of concern, with 270 murders.
“This is a global problem but it occurs almost exclusively in the global south,” Hines said. “Corruption and inequality are two major enabling factors for killings. For example, in the process of land titling, there can be investment deals between companies and corrupt officials. Defenders trying to seek justice against judges sometimes encounter bribes. This leads to the third factor. , which is high rates of impunity. Cases are rarely reliably investigated, let alone brought to justice.”
The report urges governments to create a safe civic space for environmental defenders and strengthen legal accountability for businesses, helping to ensure zero tolerance of violence against activists.
The Colombian and Philippine governments did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian about the high murder rate. The Brazilian government has said that environmental advocates and environmental reporters, including journalists, are protected through a national program that can be joined voluntarily.