Record number of environmental activists killed around the world
By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent
Growing competition for land and natural resources saw a record number of environmental activists killed in 2016, says Global Witness. The green group's report details at least 200 murders across 24 countries, up significantly from 2015. Disputes over mining were the cause of the greatest number of killings, followed by logging and agribusiness. Brazil saw the most deaths overall, but there were big increases in Colombia and India.
Global Witness has been publishing annual reports on the threats to activists since 2012, although it has data going back to 2002. The organisation compiles its analysis from media sources, information from other non-governmental organisations and from the UN. It also verifies the data with monitoring groups in priority countries, such as Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and the Philippines.
Some 60% of the killings last year took place in Latin America, with a significant number of victims from indigenous communities. According to those who compiled the report, those doing the killing have become bolder in recent years.
"We've always thought of these cases taking place in remote isolated areas but we are seeing attacks becoming more brazen, and that's because so few of these cases result in successful prosecutions," said Billy Kyte from Global Witness. "Indigenous people are massively over represented in the figures and that's because many of their lands overlap with lands rich in minerals and timber and also because they have less access to justice or communications."
Disputes about mining resulted in 33 murders, while those linked to logging increased from 15 to 23 in a year. A similar number were linked to agribusiness projects.
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