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Article

20 Oct 2016

Author:
Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

New report highlights root causes of violence against environmental defenders, including power imbalance between them, companies & states, and calls on companies to respect and protect defenders

"They spoke truth to power and were murdered in cold blood: Analysis on the situation of environmental human rights defenders and concrete recommendations to better protect them", 20 Oct 2016

In this report, I want to raise alarm about the increasing and intensifying violence against them. I am extremely appalled by the number of killings and attacks and the lack of response from States in front of such situation...This report is dedicated to the heroic activists, who have...defended the rights of their communities to a safe and healthy environment, to a future with dignity and respect, and to their traditional land and livelihood. They spoke truth to power, and were murdered in cold blood...I wish to convey to Member States that the killing of EHRDs is only the tip of the iceberg. I call on States to address the disturbing trend of increasing violence, intimidation, harassment and demonization of the brave individuals and groups who strive to defend and promote environmental and land rights...One of the systemic causes of conflicts around environmental rights is the imbalance of power between States, companies and EHRDs....[I]t is urgent that the international community, regional communities, States, IFIs, business enterprises and other actors urgently and publicly adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the killings and violent acts against EHRDs, and immediately launch policies and mechanisms to empower and protect them.

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