According to the findings of research compiled by Global Witness, over 1,700 individuals have lost their lives while attempting to protect their lands from being exploited for mining, oil drilling, or logging. In the past decade, the biggest number of deaths have been reported in Brazil and Colombia respectively.
According to the researchers, these estimates do not take into account the full scope of the problem.
- More than half of the world’s palm trees are in danger
- The study contradicts Rees-Mogg over hydrogen for heating
Following the murders of a British journalist named Dom Phillips and a local indigenous expert named Bruno Pereira this year, lawlessness in the Amazon has garnered the attention of people all over the world. According to the findings of the most recent study conducted by Global Witness, Latin America is currently in the lead when it comes to the fight to prevent deadly attacks on environmental demonstrators and activists. According to the statistics, South America and Central America were responsible for 68% of the killings, with the highest rates of homicide being recorded in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras respectively.
Case Study – Colombia
In 2021, Oscar Sampayo, a human rights activist from Colombia, witnessed the deaths of three of his closest friends and colleagues. The anti-fracking activist has been gathering evidence of the harm caused by oil and mining projects in the Magdalena Medio region, with the goal of swaying public opinion against them. He claims that Colombia’s ecosystem is already suffering because of the conflict in Ukraine.
He told BBC News that “extraction in the global south is deepening,” notably in countries like Colombia, notwithstanding the human rights violations that are caused since fewer coal, oil, and gas are being purchased from Russia. Oscar claims that violence against green activists has been on the rise despite promises from Colombia’s new political leadership to be more ecologically conscious. But he is not ready to give up despite the attacks on himself and the murders of his fellow campaigners. He said, “The assassinations, displacements, exiles, and attacks on friends who defend nature inspire concern and demotivates me, but I have not thought about leaving Colombia.” According to Global Witness, environmental activists’ lives have gotten more dangerous rather than less dangerous in the last few years.
There has been a steady increase in homicides, campaigners say, beginning in 2018. They attribute this to the growing climate and biodiversity problems as well as the emergence of authoritarian governments. The deaths of environmental activists have been complicated by a number of variables, including the involvement of criminal and drug-related gangs.
Key findings in 2022
- Nearly four people involved in environmental activism were killed every week across the world
- Brazil and India both saw lethal attacks increase, while Colombia and the Philippines saw declines.
- There were 10 documented killings in Africa, with most taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eight of these deaths took place in the Virunga national park, mostly park rangers.
- Global Witness recorded 12 mass killings in 2021 with three in India and four in Mexico
- In Nicaragua, criminal groups murdered 15 activists as part of a systematic campaign against the Miskitu and Mayangna peoples
Hope on The Horizon
Despite the discouraging figures and the sharp increase in the number of fatalities in recent years, activists continue to maintain their optimism that things can and will improve. A former energy executive in Honduras who was convicted of the 2016 murder of environmental campaigner Berta Cáceres received a sentence of 22 years in prison. The Escaz pact, the full implementation of which is scheduled for the year 2021, is another reason for confidence.
This convention is the first of its kind to be signed in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it protects human rights in addition to the natural environment. It demands countries that sign it take measures to avoid attacks on environmental activists and investigate any such incidents that occur. Several nations, including Mexico, have already ratified the treaty, but others, including Brazil and Colombia, have not.
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