The report ‘How Many More?‘ noted that out of 116 verified killings of activists worldwide during 2014, 88 (three-quarters) occurred in Latin American states. The true number of killings may be much higher due to limited communications with rural and remote areas, the report said.
Brazil topped the global ranking in 2014 with 29 killings, followed in the region by Colombia (25), Honduras (12), Peru (9), Guatemala (5), Paraguay (3), Mexico (3), Ecuador (1), and Costa Rica (1). Around 40% of the victims worldwide were indigenous people.
The report included a special case study for Honduras, the country with the most deaths of land and environmental defenders per capita for each of the last five years. At least 111 activists were killed in the Central American country between 2002 and 2014, with the vast majority (101) coming after the 2009 ousting of President Manuel Zelaya.
“In Honduras, and across the world environmental defenders are being shot dead in broad
daylight, kidnapped, threatened, or tried as terrorists for standing in the way of so-called
‘development’,” said Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness.
“The true authors of these crimes – a powerful nexus of corporate and state interests – are escaping unpunished. Urgent action is needed to protect citizens and bring perpetrators to justice.”
According the report, each of the 116 killings in 2014 were related to land disputes, while mining, hydroelectric dams, logging, and agribusiness were also identified as key drivers of activist killings.
A year ago, Global Witness reported that 80% of murders of environmental activists between 2002 and 2013 occurred in Latin America.
Another report released in December highlighted the killing of environmental activists in Peru in the run up to the UN Climate Conference in Peru.