Seven countries of Latin America sum up 61 per cent of killings documented against environmental activists in 2016, according to data from Global Witness’ annual Defenders of the Earth report.
The region was considered the “most affected by a system of homicides” that shrinks the community of social activists and environment leaders, after registering 122 killings last year. This NGO reported 200 killings in 24 countries, the highest rate in the last five years.
Billy Kyte, leader for Global Witness’ Environmental and Land Defenders campaign, considered it an “alarming” outcome, that shows how few initiatives that take place to protect these people.
“It is imperative that the governments, the companies and private investors that cause these killings, protect and guarantee the safety of these people, who should be accountable as these communities have the right to say no to those projects,” Kyte said.
Kyte added that corruption, impunity and the large number of indigenous communities in the region are the reasons why Latin America has such a high rate of violence against people and communities that face mining companies, hydroelectric constructions and logging of wood.
According to the report, the top five countries with most killings in 2016 were Brazil (49), Colombia (37), Philippines (28), India (16) and Honduras (14).
Global Witness is a non-profit organization that reports in the state of governance, financial interest and conflicts linked to the destruction of the environment and natural resources since 2004.