Systematic racism and the failure of governments to recognize and respect land rights are at the root of violence leading to the murder of Indigenous Peoples around the world, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples on Tuesday.
“These murders are often the last step in a long line of threats, smear campaigns and unjust legal prosecutions – what we call criminalization,” she said during deliberations emceed by actor and activist Alec Baldwin on the sidelines of the U.N. 18th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues.
“These threats and attacks are intended to silence Indigenous Peoples’ protests against unwanted development projects on their land, and their leaders are often the ones targeted,” Tauli-Corpuz said.
A report released in 2018 by human rights watchdog Global Witness said that almost 1,000 environmental defenders have been killed since 2010 and at least 207 land and environmental activists – almost half of them Indigenous – have been targeted and murdered for defending their forests, rivers, wildlife and homes against destructive industries in 2017 – the worst year on record.
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