Deadliest year on record for environmental defenders
At least 20 indigenous leaders, community activists and environmentalists were killed in 2017 for trying to protect their homes and communities from mining, agribusiness and other destructive industries, according to the international Global Witness organization
The total number of killings is probably much higher, said Global Witness in a statement that accompanied the release of the report “At What Cost?”
The group also said murder is the most egregious example of a range of tactics used to silence defenders. Others include death threats, arrests, intimidation, cyberattacks, sexual assault and lawsuits.
Agribusiness has overtaken mining as the industry most associated with the attacks.
The report links the violence with consumer products, including palm oil for shampoo and timber for furniture.
The report also states some governments and businesses are complicit in the killings.
Said senior Global Witness campaigner Ben Leather: “Local activists are being murdered as governments and businesses value quick profit over human life. Many of the products emerging from this bloodshed are on the shelves of our supermarkets. Yet as brave communities stand up to corrupt officials, destructive industries and environmental devastation, they are being brutally silenced. Enough is enough.”
Some key findings in the paper:
Brazil recorded the worst year on record anywhere in the world, with 57 murders in 2017.
Forty-eight defenders were killed in the Philippines in 2017, the highest number ever documented in an Asian country.
Sixty percent of recorded murders were in Latin America.
For the first time, agribusiness was the bloodiest industry, with at least 46 murders linked to the sector.
Killings linked to mining increased from 33 to 40, and 23 murders were related to logging.
Taking on poachers became even more dangerous, with a record 23 people murdered for taking a stand against the illegal wildlife trade — mostly park rangers in Africa.
Global Witness linked government security forces to 53 of the murders.