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Global Witness report: Philippines deadliest in Asia for environmental and land defenders

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The report said 2020 was the most dangerous year so far for people who are in the frontline to defend their homes, livelihood, and the environment. (Image by Pixabay)

IPIL, Philippines

The Philippines ranks as the deadliest country in Asia and third deadliest in the world for environmental and land defenders in 2020, a report said.

In its new report, Global Witness has recorded in 2020 a total of 227 lethal attacks against environmental and land defenders worldwide or an average of more than four people every week. Over half of these attacks occurred in Colombia, Mexico, and Philippines.

The report said 2020 was the most dangerous year so far for people who are in the frontline to defend their homes, livelihood, and the environment.

These attacks, the report said, took place over a wide range of threats such surveillance, intimidation, sexual violence, and criminalization.

The group noted the deterioration of human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte administration. A total of 166 environment and land defenders have been killed from 2016 up to 2020.

Global Witness said the government has failed to protect the land and environment defenders urging a more systemic approach to uphold the rights of these people.

Greenpeace Philippines Country Director Lea Guerrero said: “Greenpeace Philippines echoes the recommendations of the Global Witness report that companies and governments must be held accountable for the violence and persecution of land and environmental defenders.”

“The continued killings and persecution of environmental activists, even during the time of pandemic shows distorted priorities that put profit and the gain of a few over the welfare of communities and the environment we depend on.”

Greenpeace, Guerrero said, stands with environmental defenders.

She said the “work of environmental defenders is even more crucial now: we need to ensure a green, inclusive, and just recovery post COVID.”

“We need to prevent government and businesses from pursuing misguided policies and projects that are destructive to the environment and climate,” she added.

“We demand justice and peace for activists of all causes, and call for urgent and effective protection mechanisms, and an enabling environment, for those who are peacefully defending people and the planet,” she said. (Antonio Manaytay with Greenpeace)

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