Over the past decade, at least 1,733 people around the world have been killed trying to protect their lands and the environment. According to reports, more than half of the attacks occur in Latin American countries. 10 years of resistance According to London-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Global Witness, which has documented this kind of abuse since 2012.
“The panorama is devastating,” said Carolina Oviedo, a researcher at the Center for Development Alternatives, a Colombian NGO that seeks alternatives to socio-environmental conflicts. dialog “This report allows us to discuss violence against socio-environmental leaders rooted in a deeply exploitative system of development.”
According to a report released on September 29, 200 environmentalists will be murdered worldwide in 2021, which equates to an average of nearly four per week. The report also reveals that 40% of all deadly attacks are aimed at indigenous peoples, even though they make up only 5% of the world’s population.
Mexico and Colombia
54 defenders died in Mexico, followed by 33 in Colombia and 26 in Brazil. In Nicaragua, criminal groups have killed 15 indigenous land rights defenders in a coordinated and widespread act of violence against indigenous Miskito and Mayanna tribes.
Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places for activists. Violence is widespread in areas where drug cartels and other criminal groups vie for control of the territory. In the north of the country, criminal groups exploit timber, mining and fishing resources, new york times report.
In Colombia, on August 7, 2022, environmental and animal rights leader Javier Useti was killed in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the country, north of Valle del Cauca.The incident brings the number of leaders killed in 2022 to 111 from him, says Colombian newspaper viewer report.
Also in Valle del Cauca, Sandra Liliana Peña, governor of La Laguna, an indigenous territory, openly opposed illegal crops and was the target of threats. In April 2021, four armed men forced her out of her home and shot her dead.
Global Witness points out that ‘our data on killings represents the tip of the iceberg.’
Many activists and communities have also been silenced through death threats, surveillance, sexual violence, or criminalization. These types of attacks are even less reported than killings, the report said.
“Colombia has seen a decline in environmental leader deaths, but they remain high compared to other countries in the region,” Oviedo said. “Environmentalist death and territorial defense will continue.”
According to Global Witness, most of the attacks and threats against activists are related to land disputes, resource exploitation, mining, logging and infrastructure construction. Organized crime is also one of the main threats to defenders.
Killing defenders represents not only the loss of life, but the loss of culture, language, and traditional knowledge. Species are also declining at an accelerating rate. Furthermore, “we are in the midst of a climate emergency,” the report notes.
Global Witness calls on governments to create a safe environment for human rights defenders and civic space to thrive, and to encourage businesses and financial institutions to meet their legal human rights responsibilities. .
Companies need to ensure the traceability of the products they receive (meat, gold, wood, fish, etc.) and “not get stained with blood,” says Oviedo. It also needs to build “public-private partnerships to ensure traceability processes are more effective.”