June 24th, 2012 by Global Witness
According to a Global Witness briefing “A Hidden Crisis?“, as competition for access to natural resources increases, more activists, journalists, and community members are being killed defending the rights to land and forests.
The briefing finds that over 711 people appear to have been killed in the last decade – more than one a week.
In 2011 the toll was 106 people, almost doubling over the past three years.
The briefing warns of a hidden crisis in environmental protection, highlighting a pervasive culture of impunity around such violence, a lack of information, reporting or monitoring of the problem at national and international levels, and the involvement of governments and the domestic and foreign private sector in many killings.
Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness said “this trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls. Over one person a week is being murdered for defending rights to forests and land.”
The research, drawn from consultations with communities, organisations and academics, and collation of online databases, reveals:
As global consumption increases, the battle for access to land, forests and other natural resources is intensifying with deadly results.
Contributory factors include:
Governments must ensure that citizens with concerns over how land and forest are managed can speak out without fear of persecution and that investment projects and land and forest deals are open and fair. This means seeking free, prior and informed consent from affected communities before deals are approved.
Justice and redress must also be delivered for those killed.
“The international community must stop perpetuating this vicious contest for forests and land. It has never been more important to protect the environment and it has never been more deadly”, Billy Kyte said.