Over 1000 human rights defenders killed or harassed in 2016 – new report urges advocates to engage companies more effectively
Author: Front Line Defenders, Published on: 6 January 2017
"Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2016", 3 Jan 2017
More than 1000 human rights defenders [HRDs] were killed, harassed, detained, or subjected to smear campaigns...in 2016, Front Line Defenders [FLD] reported...[in] its annual report...282 [HRDs] were murdered in 25 countries, 49 percent of whom were defending land, indigenous and environmental rights. [FLD] found that in the vast majority of cases, killings were preceded by warnings, death threats and intimidation which, when reported to police, were routinely ignored... [The report stresses that] [r]esource-rich lands in South and Central America, Africa and Asia continued to bring extractive industries into conflict with indigenous peoples in projects which are frequently funded by international financial institutions(IFIs) or Western and Chinese-based corporations. A lack of institutionalised human rights-related checks and balances within those institutions, often matched with the complicity or corrupt acquiescence of the concerned government, has led to the intimidation and worse of local people...[The report highlighted] the killing of Berta Cáceres, [stating that the] killing illustrates the limitations of protection when a government is determined to blindly pursue economic interests and ignore growing social tensions in communities affected by large scale projects [and] shows the need for those supportive of HRDs to engage governments and corporations in a more robust, sustained and effective way... In addition to killings, over half of the cases reported...concerned criminalisation...“the first choice of governments to silence defenders and to dissuade others.” [Refers to FMO, Finnfund and Mineral Commodities (MRC)].