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A Record Number of Environmentalists Were Murdered in 2016

A record number of environmental activists were murdered around the globe in 2016, according to a new report released today by the watchdog group Global Witness—nearly four a week.

Last year, 200 environmentalists across 24 countries were murdered—up from 185 across 16 countries in 2015—and 40 percent of those killed were indigenous activists. The deadliest country for environmentalists was Brazil, with 49 slayings, followed by Colombia, where, according to the report, the recent peace deal between the government and the guerrilla group, the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, may have exacerbated environmental conflicts.

"Areas previously under guerrilla control are now eyed enviously by extractive companies and paramilitaries, while returning communities are attacked for reclaiming land stolen from them during half a century of conflict," according to the Global Witness report.

More often than not, law enforcement and governments fail to identify those responsible for such violence, or to bring them to justice. Indeed, the report found that government forces, including the police and military, were actually behind at least 43 of the killings in 2016.