29.12.2017 |

2017 was a deadly year for land rights defenders, report

The Philippines recorded the highest number of killings related to land (Photo: CC0)

At least 116 people were killed in 2017, defending their right to land and resources, with the Philippines leading the list of the most dangerous countries for land activists. According to a report, published by the non-governmental organization PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), this year saw continuing and intensifying attacks against rural communities that are asserting their right to land. For the report, the rights group regularly monitored news and articles and collected information from reports of partners and networks. PANAP has recorded 142 cases of human rights violations related to land conflicts in 21 countries from various regions, covering the period January 1 to November 30, 2017. These cases include politically motivated killings of farmers, farmworkers, indigenous peoples as well as activists and supporters who closely work with the affected rural communities. The recorded cases also include various forms of repression such as arrest, detention, legal persecution, threats, harassment, and physical assault, as well as displacement.

According to the report, the 73 cases of killings claimed the lives of 116 individuals, 71 of whom were farmers and farmworkers; 23 were land activists; and 21 were indigenous peoples. Of the total number of victims, 86% were men. The Philippines accounted for 61 victims, followed by Brazil with 22 victims and Mexico with seven victims. Land rights defenders were also killed in Peru, Colombia, India and Uganda, among other countries. In terms of threats, harassment, and physical assault, there were 17 cases and 45 victims monitored this year. Of the total number of victims, 14 were indigenous peoples, 26 were farmers and farmworkers, and 4 were land activists. There were also 52 cases of human rights violations, of which 25 cases or more than half involved mining companies while 15 cases occurred in plantations. State security forces – including the military, police, and paramilitary – have been implicated in seven out of every ten cases of human rights violations.

“Alarmingly, global and regional developments that create conditions for greater land and resource grabbing continue to emerge and fuel social conflicts and unrest in the rural areas,” the report says. “The continued rule of repressive regimes create the environment of impunity in violating the human rights of the rural peoples and small food producers in order to pave the way for corporate, including foreign, interests to take over lands and resources.” PANAP warns that these trends challenge rural communities and advocates of the people’s right to land and resources, food sovereignty and genuine land reform. The group highlights that a strong mass movement is needed that will confront and make accountable land grabbers and human rights violators. (ab)

Back to news list


Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
English versionDeutsche VersionDeutsche Version