ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) — Being an environmental activist can be deadly.
A new report released by Global Witness finds that more than one environmental activist has been killed per week over the last decade – 711 people. In 2011 alone, 106 people were killed, doubling the number over the past three years.
The highest number of deaths came in Brazil as the Rio +20 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development begins.
“This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio,” Billy Kyte, a campaigner for Global Witness, said in the report. “Over one person a week is being murdered for defending rights to forests and land.”
The report blames a “pervasive culture of impunity” and lack of reporting or monitoring in the high death toll among environmental activists. Global Witness calls on governments to let activists speak freely without fear of persecution.
“The international community must stop perpetuating this vicious contest for forests and land. It has never been more important to protect the environment and it has never been more deadly”, Kyte said.
Colombia, the Philippines and Peru also have a high murder rate for environmental activists.