According to the NGO Global Witness, at least 207 Indigenous and community leaders were murdered in 2017 around the world.
The NGO Global Witness announced Tuesday that 2017 was the deadliest year for environmentalist activists around the globe. According to the organization, sixty percent of murders occurred in Latin America and over half of the recorded homicides worldwide involved state security forces.
According to the report, titled "At What Cost?", most of the 207 murders were linked to the agro-exporting sector, especially palm oil, and victims include Indigenous and community leaders who attempt to defend their territories.
Brazil, where 57 homicides were registered, was the most dangerous country for environmental activists and community leaders, followed by the Philippines with 48 murders. The report also revealed that in 2017 agribusinesses displaced the mining industry as the primary source of territorial conflict and human rights violations, which also includes death threats, sexual aggression, arrests, and lawsuits.
Despite the shocking number Global Witness warned it is likely an underestimation of the real number.
In January, the Institute of Studies for Peace Development, Indepaz, a Colombian NGO published a report estimating 170 social leaders linked to struggles over land had been murdered in 2017.
That is three times the number registered for Brazil, the country with the highest number of murders. The report recorded only 24 killings in Colombia.
Deadly violence against Indigenous and community leaders is related to activities like “large-scale agriculture, mining, illegal hunting, logging, components for supermarket goods like palm oil for shampoos, soy, and wood,” Global Witness found.
“Local activists are being murdered while governments and businesses prioritize quick profits over human lives,” Ben Leather of the Global Witness campaigns lamented.