Latin Amer­ica ‘most danger­ous’ area for land ac­tivists

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Latin Amer­ica was the most danger­ous place for en­vi­ron­men­tal and land ac­tivists, ac­count­ing for three quar­ters of all killings last year, ac­cord­ing to a re­port Mon­day.

A to­tal of 116 ac­tivists were killed around the world last year, with 87 tak­ing place in Latin Amer­ica, ac­cord­ing to the re­port from Bri­tain- based watch­dogs Global Wit­ness.

Hon­duras was the most danger­ous coun­try for land and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists, with the high­est per cap­i­tal death rate in the world.

There were 111 killings re­ported in the coun­try be­tween 2002 and 2014, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, ti­tled “How Many More?”

“In Hon­duras and across the world en­vi­ron­men­tal de­fend­ers are be­ing shot dead in broad day­light, kid­napped, threat­ened, or tried as ter­ror­ists for stand­ing in the way of so-called ‘devel­op­ment,’” said Billy Kyte, cam­paigner at Global Wit­ness.

He said more needs to be done to en­sure ac­tivists are pro­tected.

“The true au­thors of th­ese crimes — a pow­er­ful nexus of cor­po­rate and state in­ter­ests — are es­cap­ing un­pun­ished. Ur­gent ac­tion is needed to pro­tect cit­i­zens and bring per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice.”

Some 40 per­cent of those killed were in­dige­nous peo­ple. And Global Wit­ness warned the ac­tual num­ber of ac­tivists killed is likely higher as many deaths go un­re­ported.

Brazil had the most deaths, with 29 peo­ple killed, fol­lowed by Colom­bia with 25, Philip­ines with 15 and Hon­duras with 12.

The re­port said Southeast Asia was the sec­ond most danger­ous re­gion in the world for land ac­tivists.

The group said the to­tal num­ber of deaths was a 20 per­cent jump from 2013.

Para­mil­i­tary groups, po­lice, pri­vate se­cu­rity guards and the mil­i­tary were of­ten be­hind the killings, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The re­port praised Hon­duran in­dige­nous ac­tivist Berta Cac­eres, and said she has faced re­peated threats for her work, in­clud­ing her fight against the Agua Zarca hy­dro-dam on the Gual­car­que River.

“They fol­low me. They threaten to kill me, to kid­nap me, they threaten my fam­ily. That is what we face,” Cac­eres said.

She is set to re­ceive the 2015 Gold­man En­vi­ron­men­tal Prize for grass­roots en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivism Mon­day in San Fran­cisco.

The group said three of Cac­eres’s col­leagues have been killed while op­pos­ing the project.

Global Wit­ness called on gov­ern­ments to do more to en­sure the safety of ac­tivists and bring per­pe­tra­tors — of killings and en­vi­ron­men­tal abuses — to jus­tice.

“En­vi­ron­men­tal de­fend­ers are fight­ing to pro­tect our cli­mate against ever- in­creas­ing odds,” Kyte said.

“We need to start hold­ing gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies to ac­count for the ris­ing death toll on our en­vi­ron­men­tal fron­tiers. The se­crecy around how nat­u­ral re­source deals are made fu­els vi­o­lence and must end. It’s time for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to stand up and take no­tice.”

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