Earth Day 2020: Experts denounce continued attacks against land & environmental defenders, exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdown measures

Author: Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of HRDs & Michael Taylor, Director of the International Land Coalition Secretariat, Published on: 22 April 2020

"Land and environmental defenders are sitting ducks, while world goes into lockdown", 22 Apr 2020

…This Earth Day, more than any other, it’s time to shine a spotlight on the everyday guardians of our planet, land and environment defenders, who stand at the front line to defend their land and territories from corporate or state abuse and unsustainable exploitation… When a community goes into lockdown, defenders not only become easier to target, they lose their right to protection and the world’s attention and that of the media, is elsewhere… Even worse, lockdowns are being used by irresponsible companies to further suppress defenders and by governments to give industries a free pass.

… A group of organizations belonging to the Defending Land and Environmental Defenders Coalition – among them, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Frontline Defenders, Global Witness, the World Resources Institute and the International Land Coalition – are building a database of COVID-related incidents. Cases can be securely collected beginning Friday via LANDex, a global monitoring system dedicated to democratizing land data.

Particularly vulnerable are many of the world’s 320 million Indigenous peoples, whose territories are often rich in natural resources... Governments and corporations should heed calls for a moratorium on external activities in Indigenous territories without their express consent.

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