‘Deadly Environment’

In December 1988, a rubber tapper, trade unionist and environmental rights activist in Brazil, Chico Mendes, was assassinated, along with many others that year.  His work focused on the rights of indigenous people of the Amazon to their land and the conservation of the Amazon.  25 years later, it is still extremely unsafe to be an environmental and land rights activist.

Global Witness just published “Deadly Environment”, which builds on an investigation done by Tom Longley, human rights and technology consultant, who led the track on ‘Documentation” at the Camp (and helps Tactical Tech as our program advisor). Tom’s investigation pulled together documentation on nearly 1000 murders of environmental and land defenders in the last 12 years.

According to the report killings of environmental and land rights activists rose sharply from 2002-2013 as competition for natural resources remains a grim, high-stakes game. Disputes over industrial logging, mining and land rights the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia Pacific particularly hard hit. In the past four years, an average of two activists a week have been killed. 2012 was the worst year so far to be an environmental defender, with 147 killings.

The problem is particularly acute in Latin America and South East Asia. Brazil is the most
dangerous place to defend rights to land and the environment, with 448 killings, followed by Honduras (109) and the Philippines (67). The problem is exacerbated by a lack of systematic monitoring or information. Where cases are recorded, they are often seen in isolati on or treated as a subset of other human rights or environmental issues. The victims themselves often do not know their rights or are unable to assert them because of lack of resources in their often remote and risky circumstances. You can read the entire report here.