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14 Sep 2021

Global: 227 environment and land defenders were killed in 2020, reveals Global Witness

Centro Prodh

According to the report "Last line of defence", published by the organisation Global Witness, 277 environment and land defenders were murdered in 2020. Around 75% of these cases (165) occurred in Latin America and 226 took place in countries of the Global South.

Once again, Colombia leads the ranking of most dangerous countries for human rights defenders, having registerd 65 murders, followed by Mexico (30), the Philippines (29) and Brazil (20). Nicaragua, which documented 12 cases, is the country with the highest number of victims per capita. The report also revealed an increase in violence against indigenous peoples and women, and highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the underreporting of cases and the rise in the vulnerabilities of populations.

Around 30% of murders are connected to large-scale resource exploitation sectors (agro-industry, mining, timber industry, energy...). Forest exploitation was the activity with the highest number of related cases (23).

Global Witness also stated that it is possible to conclude that many companies are engaged in an extractive economic model that prioritizes profit over human and environmental protection, being responsible for the current climate crisis and perpetuating the killing of human rights defenders.

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