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Study Finds Global Surge in Slayings of Environmental Activists

Posted on Apr 16, 2014

    Senior campaigner with Global Witness Oliver Courtney. Photo by 'Democracy Now!'

Killings of environmental and land rights activists worldwide have tripled over the past decade, bringing the death rate to an average of two per week, according to a new report by the group Global Witness.

The group documented the killing of 147 activists in 2012, compared with 51 in 2002. “Democracy Now!” spoke Wednesday with Global Witness campaigner Oliver Courtney, who said the numbers “could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the scale of the real problem” given how difficult it is to gather details about the slayings. One implication is that people linked to businesses and state officials could be involved.

Courtney talked about a few of those who were killed:

[A] friend and colleague of ours, a man named Chut Wutty,, who was a prominent Cambodian forest activist who was killed by military police in Cambodia whilst investigating illegal logging. To date, his case has been dropped by a provincial court. His family haven’t seen justice. And since he—in the months after he died, another journalist who was investigating illegal logging was found with an ax in his head in the boot of a car, and a young girl who was protesting the forced eviction from her village, a 14-year-old girl, was shot and killed by military police. So there really is very little protection for these people. They are often operating in and protesting in remote and often very risky areas and coming into contact with some very powerful and well-connected vested interests. We really feel it comes down to governments and companies to make sure that this problem is being monitored much better, and that crimes, where they are found, are prosecuted. That would send out a message that protect—those who protect the environment will also be protected.

‘Democracy Now!’:


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