LONDON – At least 177 environmental activists were killed across the world last year, a report by the non-governmental organisation Global Witness suggests.
Sixty of the killings took place in Colombia, making it the deadliest country for environmental defenders.
Global Witness says very few of the perpetrators of the killings are ever brought to justice.
The pressure group argues that impunity the murderers enjoy is fuelling further violence.
The number of deadly attacks on environmental defenders in Colombia almost doubled in 2022.
The group said in its report that the total number of those killed in the country since it began recording data on attacks on environmentalists in 2012 had amounted to at least 382.
While that makes it the country with the highest number of murders of green activists anywhere in the world, other countries in Latin America also proved deadly.
Brazil recorded 34 murders of defenders of the environment. Mexico 31 and Honduras 11.
The Amazon region saw 39 killings, with many of the victims from indigenous communities.
According to the report, these people face a range of threats from activities including gold mining and logging. Several companies based in the UK, the EU and the US are said to have been linked to human rights violations.
“Research has shown again and again that Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forests and therefore play a fundamental role in mitigating the climate crisis,” said Global Witness senior adviser Laura Furones. “Yet they are under siege in countries like Brazil, Peru and Venezuela for doing precisely that. We hear of new attacks every day.”
Aside from Latin America, 11 environmental activists were killed in the Philippines.
Global Witness said the full scale of the killings was unknown, with a lack of independent monitoring and restrictions on free press in many countries leading to an underreporting of cases.
They have called on governments around the world to urgently address the issue, adding that defenders were also increasingly being subjected to legal efforts to silence them. (BBC)