Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 15, 2014

Never Forget: Environmental activists killed in the past decade 908

Sharp rise in environmental and land killings as pressure on planet’s resources 

By Global Witness
Posted at Censored News

Urgent action required to challenge impunity of perpetrators, protect citizens and address root
causes of environmental crisis

Killings of people protecting the environment and rights to land increased sharply between 2002
and 2013 as competition for natural resources intensifies, a new report from Global Witness
reveals. In the most comprehensive global analysis of the problem on record, the campaign group
has found that at least 908 people are known to have died in this time. Disputes over industrial
logging, mining and land rights the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific particularly hard

Released in the year of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Brazilian rubber tapper and
environmental activist Chico Mendes, Deadly Environment highlights a severe shortage of
information or monitoring of this problem. This means the total is likely to be higher than the report
documents, but even the known scale of violence is on a par with the more high profile incidence of
journalists killed in the same period (1). This lack of attention to crimes against environment and land
defenders is feeding endemic levels of impunity, with just over one per cent of the perpetrators
known to have been convicted.

“This shows it has never been more important to protect the environment, and it has never been
more deadly,” said Oliver Courtney of Global Witness. “There can be few starker or more obvious
symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in killings of ordinary people
defending rights to their land or environment. Yet this rapidly worsening problem is going largely
unnoticed, and those responsible almost always get away with it. We hope our findings will act as
the wake-up call that national governments and the international community clearly need.”

The key findings in Deadly Environment are as follows:

 At least 908 people were killed in 35 countries protecting rights to land and the environment
between 2002 and 2013, with the death rate rising in the last four years to an average of two
activists a week.
Read press statement and report:

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