While 2018 will go down in history as a year when activism took off around the world, its effects are not all positive. A new report from Irish human rights organisation Front Line Defenders has revealed that more peaceful activists were killed in 2018 than any other year on record.
The organisation said they recorded the murders of 321 human rights defenders across 27 countries last year – an increase of nine people from 312 murders in 2017.
South America saw the worst increases in violence, with Columbia and Mexico combined accounting for over half of the total killings worldwide. In Guatemala, killings increased by 136% since 2017.
According to Front Line Defenders' research, almost half (49%) of those killed in 2018 had previously received a direct threat before their death. What's more, 12% of those killed were women, and 77% of those killed were defending environmental/indigenous rights.
The organisation also warned the threat of violence is increasing in many countries on those defending LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights and migrant rights.
Front Line Defenders has said the situation of restrictive laws around the world regarding human rights groups is worsening, with a spike in laws targeting freedom of expression, peaceful activism and NGO funding.