An international human rights organization has named the Philippines as the second-deadliest country for human rights activists and environmental defenders in 2020.
The Global Analysis 2020 report published by Front Line Defenders this month recorded at least 25 Filipino human rights defenders killed last year.
The report said at least 84 percent of the 25 rights defenders killed “were working on land, environmental, and indigenous peoples’ rights.”
The report blamed the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, which it described as “openly hostile to the concept of human rights.”
The “widespread impunity” in the country also contributed to the high number of victims, said the report, citing the killing of nine Tumandok indigenous peoples on December 30.
Globally, at least 331 human rights defenders promoting social, environmental, racial and gender justice in 25 countries were reported killed in 2020.
The report said scores were “beaten, detained, and criminalized because of their work.”
Olive Moore, the group’s deputy director, said the study indicated an “unconscionable” trend of violence against human rights defenders.
“While 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, it was especially challenging for human rights defenders, who rose to meet unprecedented challenges,” she said.
Moore said rights defenders “faced increased attacks” and challenges due to the global health crisis “yet worked to fill voids left by insufficient government responses to the pandemic.”
Colombia in Latin America ranked as the world’s most dangerous country with 177 recorded deaths, more than half of the global total.
The killings of human rights activists in Colombia increased since 2016 despite a peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Honduras ranked third with 20 deaths followed by Mexico that recorded 19 killed rights defenders, while Afghanistan ranked fifth with 17 deaths.
Other countries in Asia that were included in the top 25 countries were India, Nepal, and Thailand.
The report noted that both China and India have “attempts to reduce and reframe normative human rights standards.”
The report also found that indigenous peoples comprised nearly one-third of the total 331 killings of rights defenders last year while 13 percent were women.
“Human rights defenders are always at risk and the lack of accountability and prosecution for their killings leaves virtually no cost for perpetrators,” said Ed O’Donovan, also of the Front Line Defenders.
Apart from the killings, the group also documented 919 human rights violations against right activists, with over 50 percent of the incidents involving detention, arrest, and legal action.