Environment Activists Have Been Assassinated Over 1,700 Times in The Last Ten Years, According to A Research

Environment Activists Have Been Assassinated Over 1,700 Times in The Last Ten Years, According to A Research

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.

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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.

Many of those who perished were indigenous people, who were frequently engaged in efforts to prevent the exploitation of their lands by mining, oil, timber, or hydropower companies. Many of these indigenous people died as a result of their involvement in these struggles.

As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the world is making efforts to improve the extraction of fossil fuels, and researchers believe that this will put activists in increasingly dangerous situations. After Berta Cáceres was killed, thousands of people in Honduras flocked to the streets to protest. The most recent figures that can be accessed are from 2021, and they show that over 200 people were murdered, which is equivalent to around 4 deaths each week.

According to Shruti Suresh, who works for Global Witness, 85 percent of all killings that have taken place in Brazil have taken place in the Amazon. She argues that this is the result of “increasing demand on natural resources internationally, and this is playing out as a battle,”, particularly in the Amazon region of Brazil.

According to the perspective of one knowledgeable individual, “This is about land inequality”: “defenders are fighting for their land, and the victims of this expanding race to grab more land to acquire and exploit resources are indigenous groups and local populations whose voices are being suppressed.”

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.

A photograph of Herasmo Garcia Grau, an indigenous leader from Peru who was just murdered, is held by a nun. The number of people murdered in Mexico rose to 54 in 2021, up from 30 in 2020. Deaths have occurred as a result of violence directed at those who are opposed to large-scale mining activities. However, deaths have also occurred as a result of illegal mines that are run by drug cartels.

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

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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.

At Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), there have been fatalities as a consequence of attacks on park rangers. Human rights campaigners also refer to legislation that is being proposed in the European Union that would make companies liable for human rights crimes that occur inside their supply chains.

Shruti Suresh referred to these decisions as “game-changing” and forecasted that they would have a “genuinely positive influence” on those who advocate for the protection of the environment.

“As a result, there are clearly grounds for optimism, as there are indications that the future may hold some promise. On the other hand, there is still a lengthy and difficult trip ahead.”

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