It Was The Deadliest Year Ever For Land And Environmental Activists


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Climate activists in Quezon City, Philippines, light candles and hold LED-illuminated banners in December of last year to commemorates five years since the Paris Agreement and to call for an end to the killing of environmental defenders.

Aileen Dimatatac/Majority World/Universal Images via Getty


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Aileen Dimatatac/Majority World/Universal Images via Getty

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People place small posters depicting Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres next to a fire as they wait outside the Palace of Justice for the verdict in the activist’s murder case. A little over five years after Caceres’ murder, an ex-chief of the energy company Desa has been found partly guilty.

Delmer Membreno/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images


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Delmer Membreno/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

People place small posters depicting Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres next to a fire as they wait outside the Palace of Justice for the verdict in the activist’s murder case. A little over five years after Caceres’ murder, an ex-chief of the energy company Desa has been found partly guilty.

Delmer Membreno/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

While the highest number of killings – 23 – was linked to logging, others were linked to water and dams, mining, illegal crop substitution and agribusiness. In some places, protest has been either stigmatized or criminalized, the group has said previously.

Global Witness says its report documents the deliberate killing of «people who take a stand and carry out peaceful action against the unjust, discriminatory, corrupt or damaging exploitation of natural resources or the environment.»

The group says it collects data by reviewing publicly available online reports and datasets from international and national sources and counts only killings that have «clear, proximate and documented connections to an environmental or land issue.»

The number of such deaths last year was more than double the figure in 2013, but Global Witness says it believes its data represents an undercount because it relies on the level of transparency, press freedom and civil rights in the individual countries.

The group is calling for urgent action and recommends that companies and governments be «held to account for violence against land and environmental defenders, who are often standing on the frontline of the climate crisis.»

  • Climate change activism
  • environment
  • environmental crimes

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