Peru’s Deadly Environment: The Rise in Killings of Environmental and Land Defenders
The world’s attention will be on Peru this December, as governments from 195 countries convene in the capital Lima for the 2014 UN Climate Conference. As delegates negotiate a global deal aimed at averting catastrophic climate change, a parallel human rights crisis is unfolding in Peru and around the world. An increasing number of people on the frontline of the fight to protect the environment are being killed.
The recent murders of Peruvian indigenous leader Edwin Chota and three of his colleagues, who died trying to defend their land in the Amazon from illegal logging, are part of a global trend in violent crime against activists. Global Witness research, published earlier this year, shows that on average, two such ‘environmental and land’ defenders are being killed each week around the world, a rate that has been increasing in recent years. Governments aren’t doing enough to stop it.
As global demand for natural resources intensifies, more and more ordinary people are having to defend their rights to land and the environment from corporate or state abuse. Many of the killings stem from conflicts over the ownership and use of land, particularly in the face of expanded mining and logging activities. An estimated 93% of extractive and agriculture projects happen on land that is already inhabited. The author's research found that Peru is the world’s fourth deadliest country to be an environmental or land defender, behind Brazil, Honduras and the Philippines. Between 2002 and 2014, at least 57 such activists were killed in Peru. More than half died during the last four years.
Orginal publication date: November, 2014
Publisher: Global Witness
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