According to a report released on Thursday by human rights group Front Line Defenders, 312 people were killed in 27 countries last year defending human rights. The majority of those killed were activists working on issues of land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Close to 80 per cent of killings took place in just four countries – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. The country with the highest recorded killings, Colombia, has seen an unexpected increase in the number of murders of Human Rights Defenders since the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.
Executive director of Front Line Defenders, Andrew Anderson, said “we know that those killings, in many cases were preventable”.
He pointed out that “when we analyse those killings, in 84 per cent, the defendant had previously received a threat, and that highlights if there had been effective action taken by the police or other authorities, there could have been something done to prevent that killing happening”.
The group, based in Dublin, has called for renewed efforts by governments around the world to prioritise the human rights of their citizens. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.