The most recent report by the Global Witness organization maintains that between 2012 and 2021, 1,733 environmental defenders were killed around the world. Mexico was the country that suffered the most homicides of this type last year. And as the climate crisis worsens, violence is on the rise in Latin America: three quarters of the attacks were recorded in this region.
Defending the earth is a death sentence for hundreds around the world. That’s how it shows the most recent Global Witness report which, this time, not only counts the homicides for a year, but also compiles all the figures it has published since 2012.
Thus, it shows that Brazil is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders, by scoring the ranking of the number of homicides. Between 2012 and 2021, 342 people were murdered there. And on the list are Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras. In total, in that decade, they killed 1,733 environmental defenders around the world.
If you look at the figures only for last year, Mexico tops the list of murders, since 54 of the 200 homicides that Global Witness recorded worldwide occurred there.
The common factor that the data have is that Latin American countries are the ones that represent the most risks to exercise environmental defense. In fact, three-quarters of attacks across the planet in 2021 were reported in the region, according to Global Witness.
However, this count is incomplete. The organization acknowledges that information is largely lacking due to restrictions on press freedom and the lack of independent oversight in many countries.
In addition, indigenous communities face a disproportionate level of attacks, suffering almost 40% of them despite the fact that indigenous people represent only 5% of the world’s population.
Another constant in the cases is that most judicial processes go unpunished because “governments do not adequately investigate these crimes” and “many authorities ignore or actively prevent investigations of these murders, often due to alleged collusion between corporate and state interests,” according to the report.
At France 24 en Español we talked with Andrea Carvalho, senior research assistant at Human Rights Watch Brazil; and with Colombian environmental activist Óscar Sampayo, from the Yariguíes Regional Corporation. Both pointed out that in their respective countries impunity reigns in the assassinations of environmental leaders.
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