Environmental activists face deadly threats, Colombia tops grim list

Environmental activists

In a shocking revelation, at least 177 environmental activists were killed across the world last year according to a report by the non-governmental organisation Global Witness.

Disturbingly, a fifth of these homicides occurred within the vast expanse of the Amazon rainforest, making it a perilous battleground for defenders of nature.

Colombia emerged as the deadliest country for environmental activists, recording a staggering 60 fatalities in 2022.

This grim statistic indicates a worrying trend, with Colombia witnessing nearly double the number of such murders compared to the previous year.

Despite Colombia in October 2022 ratifying a significant regional agreement legally binding it to prevent and investigate assaults against activists, the violence continues unabated.

Since 2012, Global Witness has documented an astonishing 1,910 killings of environmental activists worldwide. Colombia topped the grim list with 382 reported homicides during this period.

The disturbing reality is that Latin America bears the brunt of this deadly assault, accounting for 88% of such attacks in 2022.

Brazil, Mexico and Honduras are among the other risky nations in the region, each reporting 34 fatalities. The Philippines also witnessed the loss of 11 environmental activists.

Amazon rainforest a hazard for environmentalists

The Amazon rainforest, where 39 activists were killed last year, has become one of the most hazardous places in the world for environmental defenders.

Notable figures like Indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira and British Guardian journalist Dom Phillips fell victim to assailants in the Brazilian Amazon in 2022.

“For too long, those responsible for lethal attacks against defenders have been getting away with murder. Violence, intimidation and harassment are also being inflicted to silence defenders around the world” said Shruti Suresh, Co-Director of Campaigns at Global Witness.

“Governments around the world must urgently address the senseless killings of those who stand up for our planet, including for the protection of its most precious ecosystems which have a critical role to play in tackling the climate emergency,” Suresh said.

Laura Furones, a forest governance expert who advised on the report, highlighted attacks against Indigenous communities as a particular cause for concern.

“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” she said. “Yet they are under siege in countries like Brazil, Peru and Venezuela for doing precisely that.

“If we are to keep the forests standing, we must recognise that this relies upon the protection of those who call the forest home.”


La Croix International



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