by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOME 401 human rights defenders were killed in 2022, a year these activists showed courage and persistence in advocating for more democratic, just and inclusive societies.
They were killed in 26 countries, according to the Front Line Defenders, in its Global Analysis 2022.
This is compared to 358 human rights defenders killed in 35 countries in 2021.
“In a grim milestone, for the first time we saw more than 400 targeted killings of human rights defenders in 2022,” said Olive Moore, Interim Director of Front Line Defenders.
While Latin America remained the deadliest region in the world for human rights defenders, there also was a more dangerous landscape for defenders in the context of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.
“These human rights defenders were deliberately targeted and killed because of their human rights work. Because they choose to speak out and challenge injustice, they paid for it with their lives,” Moore said.
Five countries – Colombia, Ukraine, Mexico, Brazil and Honduras – accounted for over 80 percent of killings, according to HRD Memorial data.
Colombia alone accounted for 46 percent of the total, with at least 186 killings documented and verified by HRD Memorial partner Somos Defensores to date.
Defenders working on land, indigenous peoples’ and environmental rights were the most frequently targeted sector, accounting for almost half (48 percent) of the total killings.
The main threats reported to Front Line Defenders in 2022 included arrest or detention (19,5 percent); legal action (14,2 percent); physical attack (12,8 percent); death threats (10,9 percent); and surveillance (9,6 percent).
The five most targeted sectors of human rights defence were environmental, land and indigenous peoples’ rights (11 percent); freedom of expression (10 percent); protest movement/ freedom of assembly (9 percent); women’s rights (7 percent); and impunity and access to justice (6 percent).
– CAJ News