Over 1500 people killed trying to protect the environment in 15 years: Study

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 06, 2019 Published on August 06, 2019

Representative image   -  The Hindu

The study also stated that only 10 per cent of them have been granted justice

A study has shown that as many as 1558 people in 50 countries, including in India, were killed while trying to protect land, forests, water and other natural resources in the last 15 years. But the convictions are expected to happen only in 10 per cent of the cases.

Corruption and lack of law enforcement are key factors that influence the number of deaths of individuals defending the environment or land rights and defending environment has become more lethal that serving in some war zones, according to researchers led by Nathalie Butt, a researcher with the University of Queensland in Australia.

The study, to which researchers from the universities of Oxford and Sussex also participated, appeared in the journal Nature Sustainability, on Monday.

While Brazil accounted for 39 per cent of all these killings, the Philippines, Columbia and Honduras are other three countries where more than 100 environmental activists were killed between 2002 and 2017, according to a list prepared by international NGO Global Witness. Among those who were brutally murdered were lawyers, journalists, park rangers and members of Indigenous as well as traditional communities trying to prevent eviction from or encroachment on their lands.

According to the authors, the rate of deaths has doubled over that time period from two to four per week, which is more than double the number of British and Australian military armed service people who were killed in active duty globally during the same period.

They also analysed the relationship between governance, natural resources and their importance to a nation’s economy, and environmental-defender deaths. They identified that deaths occurred across different regions and conflicts but most were linked to the mining industry and agribusiness.

The research indicated that countries with higher levels of corruption and less legal oversight tended to have more environmental-protector deaths.

The authors also suggested that only 10 per cent of environmental-defender murders will result in a conviction, and argued that businesses, investors and governments need to be accountable for their role in the environmental conflicts that cause the violence.

Published on August 06, 2019
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