HomeNewsBrief75% of Killings of Environmentalists Occur in LatAm: Report
BRIEF

75% of Killings of Environmentalists Occur in LatAm: Report

BRAZIL / 21 APR 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Over 75 percent of all environmentalists killed in 2014 were from either Central or South America, according to a new report, illustrating the high level of danger facing land activists and those threatening eco-trafficking interests across the region.

Latin American countries accounted for five out of the six most violent places to be an environmentalist in 2014, according to a new report by non-governmental organization Global Witness (pdf). Brazil ranked first with 29 reported killings of land defenders, and Colombia was second with 24.

However, the report noted Honduras registered the greatest number of murders of environmentalists per capita. Honduras ranked fourth in the world with 12 reported deaths, and was followed by Peru (9) and Guatemala (5).

Many of the perpetrators of violence against environmentalists "are unknown or they are agents of organized crime or commercial interests such as corporations or landowners," the report states.

In total, 88 of the 116 reported killings worldwide last year occurred in Central and South America.

InSight Crime Analysis

For the past decade, Latin America has been the most dangerous region in the world to be an environmental activist. In Brazil, much of the violence is linked to territorial disputes in the Amazon. According to government statistics, illegal logging accounts for 80 percent of all logging activity in the Brazilian Amazon, and the scarce state presence means hired criminals can kill land defenders with near impunity. Last year, Global Witness reported just one percent of all murders of environmentalists from 2002 to 2013 resulted in a conviction.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

Peru's lucrative illegal logging industry is also a principal cause for violence against environmentalists in the Andean nation. In 2014, authorities attributed the killing of a prominent indigenous land activist in the Peruvian Amazon to timber trafficking networks.

In Colombia, paramilitary and neo-paramilitary organizations, known as BACRIM (from the Spanish, "bandas criminals") often act oppose the country's land restitution process. In 2013, international watchdog Human Rights Watch labeled the BACRIM as the most serious threat to Colombia's internally displaced population seeking to return to land that has been lost during the country's armed conflict.

The majority of violence against environmentalists in Honduras is related to local communities who oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams, according to the Global Witness report. However, high rates of violence against land activists are likely a symptom of a wider problem: Honduras has one of the region's highest homicide rates, and the country's three major cities have a conviction rate of just one percent for all murder cases.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 20 FEB 2019

Since beginning in Brazil with the “Operation Car Wash” (“Operação Lava Jato”) investigation in 2014, the Odebrecht corruption scandal has…

CARSI / 20 JAN 2014

As leader of the world's most dangerous nation, Honduras' next president will face a unique set of security challenges. His…

CACHIROS / 7 OCT 2015

United States authorities arrested Yankel Rosenthal, a former government minister and president of the Honduras soccer club Marathon, which…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…