Demand for products like timber, palm oil and minerals is rising which is leading to governments, companies and criminal gangs illegally seizing land. That has in turn led to clashes as people have sought to protect their homes and the environment. A new report by NGO Global Witness has now shed light on the number of people killed worldwide as a result of conflicts over resources. The research documents 164 deaths and it adds that the data will never provide an accurate picture of the true scale of the problem due to a lack of free press in many of the countries affected as well as the fact that any governments fail to monitor abuses.
Three land and enviornmental defenders were killed every week on average last year with over half of all murders occurring in Latin America. The worst incident occurred in India during a protest over the impact of a copper minde in the southern state of Tamil Nadi. Another serious incident happened in the Philippines when nine sugarcane farmers were shot dead on the island of Negros.
The Philippines had the highest activist/land defender death toll of any nation in 2018 with 30 documented killings. Colombia came second with 24 while India came third with 23. There was better news regarding Brazil which slipped out of first position for the first time since Global Witness started documenting killings in 2012. That was primarily due to a general fall in its homicide rate and its activist deaths totalled 20. The deadliest sector in 2018 was Mining & Extractives, followed by Agribusiness and Water & Dams.