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News > Latin America

More Than Half of Murdered Activists 'Killed by the State'

  • Protesters hold a staged 'die-in' demonstration during the Human Rights Rally in the Philippines.

    Protesters hold a staged 'die-in' demonstration during the Human Rights Rally in the Philippines. | Photo: Jaja Necosia, The Breakaway Media

Published 26 December 2017

State forces are responsible for 55 percent of the activists who are murdered and 35 percent of the related threats, harassment and physical aggression.

Governments are responsible for 55 percent of the murders of activists, campesinos and environmentalists, according to a damning new report by human-rights organization PAN Asia Pacific based on an analysis of 21 countries. 

State forces are the main responsible for activist, campesino and environmentalist deaths, as revealed by study published by human rights organization PAN Asia Pacific. The study is based on analysis of 21 countries in different regions. 

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State forces committed more than half of reported social-activist homicides, as well as 35 percent of related threats, harassment and physical agressions. They are also responsible for 100 percent of related detentions and displacement, the study concluded. 

At least seven out of ten cases of human-rights violations are related to land disputes and involve military, police or paramilitary forces. In 2017, 147 violations of this type were reported.     

The most dangerous country for activists, campesinos and indigenous peoples is the Philippines with 61 murders, followed by Brazil with 22 victims and Mexico with seven. 

At least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2017 for defending their territories against invasion, dispossession and extractive projects such as mining and hydroelectric plants. 

"Global and regional projects emerge at an alarming rate: these further land and resource concentration and feed social conflict in rural areas," write the report's authors.      

The victims go beyond environmentalists and include students, women and journalists. 

In the Philippines, human-rights organization Karapatan has documented 113 victims of political killings, 81 victims of torture, 54,573 victims of threat, harassment and intimidation, and 426,170 victims of displacement in President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs."

Their report stresses the importance of acknowledging that reported victims only account for those who voluntarily provide information to human-rights groups. 

In Mexico, 12 journalists have been murdered so far during 2017 and, although the state promises accountability, these cases have been marked by impunity. 

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