Environmental defenders killed in record numbers in 2020: Report | Environment News

Environmental defenders killed in record numbers in 2020: Report | Environment News

Bogota, Colombia – Colombia is the world’s most harmful nation for environmental defenders, a report printed on Monday by Global Witness, a global human rights group, highlighted.

For the second yr in a row, the Andean nation noticed the very best variety of killings in 2020, with 65 land and environmental defenders murdered, the report mentioned.

Since the top of a five-decade warfare between the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group and the Colombian authorities with a peace deal in 2016, new violence has emerged in the agricultural areas the place the FARC demobilised. Existing and new unlawful armed teams vie for management to make use of land for unlawful mining, logging, or drug trafficking, they usually typically function on Indigenous or Afro-Colombian territories.

Those who attempt to defend their land face threats, or in many instances, dying.

In the report, Global Witness reported that 227 land and environmental activists had been murdered globally in a single yr, the worst determine on record.

“The situation in Colombia is of particular concern,” Laura Furones, senior advisor at Global Witness, instructed Al Jazeera by electronic mail.

One of the human rights defenders, who was murdered, is mirrored on a wall to inform the world that their voices and reminiscence are immortal, in Bogota, Colombia [File: Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

“Global Witness recorded more killings of land and environmental defenders in Colombia in 2020 than anywhere else in the world for the second year in a row. Killings rose sharply from 2017 and 2018, and the country accounted for 29 percent of all documented killings in 2020.”

The rights group added that each floods and droughts are prone to enhance in Colombia, which is at excessive danger of local weather change impacts in line with the UN.

“Despite this, the government continues to pursue an economic growth agenda based on land-intensive industries – Colombia is currently the fifth-biggest exporter of coal and has significant oil, gas and palm oil sectors,” she mentioned.

“The 2016 Peace Agreement … has not brought peace to large parts of the country. Colombian civil society points to a woeful implementation of this agreement. In many remote areas, paramilitary and criminal groups have increased their control through violence and lack of state action.”

The pandemic additionally exacerbated the scenario, the report mentioned. Official lockdowns in Colombia led to environmental defenders being focused in their houses, and authorities safety measures had been lower.

Other Latin American nations, together with Mexico – in second place – Brazil and Honduras had been excessive on the checklist.

Oscar’s household mourns at Oscar Eyraud Adam’s grave in Juntas de Nejí – Adams, a Kumiay Indigenous activist and defender of Indigenous peoples from Tecate, Baja California, was murdered on September 24, 2020 at his house [File: Felipe Luna / Global Witness]

“Three in four recorded attacks in 2020 were in Latin America, as were seven of the 10 worst affected countries,” Furones mentioned. “The region has consistently been the worst-affected in our data. Latin American countries have experienced persistent high levels of violence for several decades, and there are high levels of impunity in many countries in the region.”

Francia Marquez, 2018 winner of the celebrated Goldman Environmental Prize for her work towards unlawful mining in her native southwestern Cauca area, referred to as the Global Witness report “very worrying”.

Marquez, who’s Afro-Colombian, has had a number of near-fatal assaults on her life. In Cauca in 2019, she escaped a violent assault when masked males attacked a gathering of rights defenders with weapons and a grenade. Her two bodyguards had been killed.

“It’s worrying that it’s mostly ethnic groups who are most targeted,” Marquez, who’s operating for the 2022 Colombian Presidency, instructed Al Jazeera on a telephone name. “It’s really sad, very worrying.”

“Without a doubt, this is an alarm that there’s a serious situation on Earth, in terms of the environmental crisis and the desperate calls from men and women from communities in rural areas,” Marquez mentioned. “As a community we have to take on the challenge to stop the environmental crisis humanity is living through.”

Gimena Sanchez, of the Washington Office on Latin America, mentioned this has been a problematic situation for a few years now.

“A major underlying effect of it is the lack of implementation of what was agreed to in the peace accords, especially all that had to do with territorial consolidation in conjunction with Afro and Indigenous people in those areas, and the ethnic chapter [of the peace agreement] as well as the drug chapter,” Sanchez mentioned.

“Unless the international community really pushes the peace accord – on its fifth anniversary – and relaunches its implementation, and forces whichever government’s in power in Colombia to take that seriously, we’re just going to see an increase in these kinds of killings.”

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