Over 30.000 people call for Dutch government action to increase safety of environmental defenders
More than 30.000 Dutch citizens call for urgent government action to increase safety of environmental defenders. This afternoon, a petition was delivered to the parliament in The Hague. The call was also signed by 26 conservation and human rights organizations. Almost four people are killed every week because they stand up for nature.
The coalition Defending environmental defenders (Bescherm de natuurbeschermer) handed over the petition to the Committee on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, joined by Dutch forest rangers. Forest rangers are shocked by the violence that their colleagues abroad have to endure. Ranger Roy Mes: “It is unbelievable that in countries such as Congo or Colombia, my profession can get you killed.”
2016: most deadly year on record
Figures released in July showed that nearly four people were murdered every week in 2016 whilst protecting their land, forest and rivers from mining, logging and agricultural companies. At least 200 people were killed in 24 countries, making 2016 the worst year ever. Latin America is the worst affected region, home to 60% of murders. Protecting national parks is riskier than ever, with large numbers of rangers killed in Africa.
Call for binding treaty
To increase safety of environmental defenders all over the world, the petition calls for action from the Dutch government. Specifically, it is advocating for an international binding treaty for business and human rights. Femke Wijdekop from IUCN NL, on behalf of the coalition: “This treaty will ensure that companies can be held accountable when they cause abuses. This will strengthen the position of environmental defenders across the globe.” The United Nations have been hosting discussions about this treaty for several years. “Until now, The Netherlands have shown limited cooperation. With our petition, we ask the government to turn their efforts up a notch and really stand up for the protection of environmental defenders.” From 23-27 October, the UN member states will continue the treaty negotations.
In total, 8 members of parliament were present at today’s rally. Among others, Tjeerd de Groot (D66), Sadet Karabulut (SP), Bram van Ojik (GroenLinks) and Frank Wassenberg (Partij voor de Dieren) declared their support for the treaty.