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There Are No Human Rights on a Dead Planet

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Environment and Climate resource Center Page.

Yesterday I spoke at the International Association of Democratic Lawyers congress in Brussels. In the audience there were over 500 hundred progressive lawyers from over 50 countries. Many of these lawyers focus on human rights issues. I called on the lawyers attending the congress to join me in campaigning for environmental protection and protecting environmental human rights defenders. Below is a summary of my remarks.

Work is getting tougher and tougher for lawyers worldwide, especially those working on human rights issues, including the lawyers representing environmentalists.  We at Greenpeace can confirm this based on our work around the world and in our collaboration with big and small NGOs and individual activists fighting on the frontlines, and on the coalface, of environment destruction.

According to the Global Witness report released during the Congress, at least 908 people were killed in 35 countries protecting rights to land and the environment between 2002 and 2013. Moreover, 2012 was the worst year so far to be an environmental defender, with 147 killings - nearly three times more than in 2002. Impunity for these crimes is rife: only 10 perpetrators are known to have been convicted between 2002 and 2013 - just over one per cent of the overall incidence of killings. The problem is particularly acute in Latin America and South East Asia. Brazil is the most dangerous place to defend rights to land and the environment, with 448 killings, followed by Honduras (109) and the Philippines (67).

The sad reality is that being an environmental activist is also deadly. Thanks to people like Billy Kyte of Global Witness for exposing the very scary fact 2 activists protecting rights to land and environment are killed per week.      


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