On July 24th, the international organization Global Witness, based in London, England, published the report “At What Price? Irresponsible Business and the Murder of Land and Environment Defenders 2017.” In reported that in 2017, 207 environmental defenders were killed in the world, making this year the bloodiest for this sector. It stressed that the victims were mostly indigenous and community leaders, as well as environmental defenders, who were killed or subjected to death threats, arrests, cyber attacks, sexual assaults and lawsuits. It acknowledged that the number of murders could be “much higher”. Latin America is the most dangerous region with 60% of cases.
In the case of Mexico, the country that ranks fourth in murders after Brazil, the Philippines and Colombia, the report noted that “collusion between companies and authorities and the presence of organized crime are factors that in Mexico affect the murder of environmental defenders, which multiplied between 2016 and 2017, in that it went from three cases to 15, 13 of them indigenous.” Global Witness also indicated that mining is the activity that generates the greatest number of cases of violence in the Mexican communities, followed by infrastructure projects.
During the presentation of the report in Mexico, in a video message transmitted through the Internet, Ben Leather, head of Advocacy of the organization, warned that, “the defenders who work on issues of land and defense of the environment face risks because they question big economic interests.”
He called on the next federal government headed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his transition government to address the problem “as a matter of priority”, and to guarantee the participation of communities and civil society organizations in decision-making about mega projects. He also asked to end the “impunity that permeates the cases of murdered activists, and that their activities to defend land rights become the main line of investigation to be followed by the courts.”
“We know that (Lopez Obrador) has said that his government will be one of human rights and without corruption, but it will be impossible if those who defend them are in situations of risk, if those who report are suffering assaults and murders and if they do not include them in their decision-making about the future,” Ben Leather noted. Finally, he stressed that it is important for other players to act to stop violence against environmentalists, including companies.
For more information in Spanish:
« ¿A qué precio ? Negocios irresponsables y el asesinato de personas defensoras de la tierra y del medio ambiente en 2017 » (Global Witness, libro completo, 24 de julio de 2017)
2017 es el año con más muertes registradas de personas defensoras de la tierra y el medio ambiente (Global Witness, 24 de julio de 2018)
Se multiplican en México asesinatos de defensores ambientales (La Jornada, 24 de julio de 2017)
Aumenta 400% asesinato de defensores del medio ambiente: Global Witness (Regeneración, 24 de julio de 2018)
En un año aumentaron 400% los asesinatos de defensores de la tierra en México (Animal Político, 24 de julio de 2018)
For more information from SIPAZ: