Report reveals spike in killings of environmentalists

Global Witness says 116 activists were killed last year, a 20 percent rise from the previous year.

Activists in Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines were among the most targeted, with Honduras the most dangerous country to work in [Reuters]

A report released by Global Witness shows a 20 percent increase in the number of killings of land and environmental activists last year, highlighting Honduras as the most dangerous country to campaign in.

The document released by the UK-based non-governmental organisation states that 116 activists were killed in 2014, an average of two per week. Forty-seven of the victims were members of indigenous groups.

“Nearly three-quarters of killings occurred in Central and South America, with South East Asia second worst-hit,” Global Witness said in Monday’s report titled “How Many More?”

Activists in Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines were among the most targeted.

Honduras, the organisation said, was the most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental and land activist, with 111 killings between 2002 and 2014.

“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, a campaigner at Global Witness.

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

The report also states that the information on the perpetrators was limited in the country, but they discovered that at least 10 cases were linked to paramilitary groups, eight to police, five to private security guards and three to the military.

“The reason for those killings in Honduras stem largely from the coup that happened there in 2010, which saw rising levels of impunity and corruption across the judicial and law enforcement section which is really the front line of defence of environmental land defenders,” Chris Moye, a forest campaigner from Global Witness, told Al Jazeera.

“The direct causes of the killing is because of the total lack of impunity … and the underlying causes to all these killings are land-use problems.”

Global Witness says it is calling on governments “to monitor, investigate and punish these crimes, and for Honduras to address abuses in the upcoming review of its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council”.

Source: Al Jazeera