- Around the world, 197 people were killed in 2017 for defending or protecting land.
- A partnership between The Guardian and international NGO Global Witness has been tracking and compiling data on the deaths of land defenders since 2002.
- Land defenders are often private individuals and activists protecting nature reserves, natural wealth, and stand up against those who harm the environment.
Land defenders around the world are increasingly being targeted for murder, according to an annual data analysis by The Guardian and Global Witness.
According to the 2017 data, released in February, 197 land defenders around the world were killed last year. They are described by the Guardian people who were “standing up to the governments and companies that steal their land and harm the environment, calling out the corrupt and unjust practices that enable it.”
The data collection project started in 2002, and since then the number of land defenders killed every year has increased four-fold.
“The situation remains critical,” said Ben Leather, senior campaigner for Global Witness in a statement. “Until communities are genuinely included in decisions around the use of their land and natural resources, those who speak out will continue to face harassment, imprisonment and the threat of murder.”
The most dangerous region for land and environment defenders is Latin America, a position it has long occupied. According to Global Witness, agribusiness interests are now most commonly linked to murders. In the past, the mining industry has been the worst offender.
Agribusiness and mining alone are connected to over 60 percent of known cases with links to a source.
National parks remained extremely deadly in 2017. There were 21 recorded deaths linked to poaching in national parks. Park rangers often clash with poachers in small-scale, but deadly conflicts inside national parks.
Brazil remains the deadliest place in the world for land defenders with 46 deaths, spurred on in part by conflicting interests in the Amazon. Colombia is a close second, though, with 32 deaths, with conflicts related to the power vacuum caused with the FARC peace deal. In Peru, a group of six farmers were murdered by a criminal group that wanted cheap land for palm oil-related profit.
FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.