A detailed assessment of nine country cases reveals an intensifying global forest crisis and rising infringements of the rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Climate change mitigation and conservation policies must place community land rights and human rights centre stage if they are to achieve the goal of effectively and sustainably reducing deforestation.
This report highlights the severity of deforestation impacts on communities driven by the expanding cultivation or extraction of commodities – including timber, paper, pulp, palm oil, beef, biofuels (sugar cane), soybeans, gold, minerals, oil and gas. Livelihood security is in decline and vulnerability increasing as forest communities lose lands, resources, livelihoods, knowledge systems and culture, accompanied by impoverishment, discrimination, repression and violence. The report documents how deforestation causes systematic violations of the human rights to food, freedom from forced resettlement, freedom of movement, and freedom from discrimination and equality before the law, collective rights to land and means of subsistence, rights to cultural integrity and protection from racial discrimination, and collective rights to self-determination and self-determined development. These rights violations are associated with:
- Intimidation and criminalisation of community members and leaders who seek to protect community forests or even question destructive projects and investments (Cameroon, Colombia, DRC, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia, Peru).
- Land grabs and forced eviction of families and communities to make way for commercial ranches, industrial farms, plantations, mines, roads and infrastructure development (Cameroon, Colombia, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia, Paraguay).
- Contact imposed on indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation (Paraguay, Peru).
- Beatings, maiming, murder and disappearances of community leaders and forest defenders by state police and security forces, and often by private security firms hired by companies and land grabbers (Colombia, Indonesia, Paraguay, Peru).
- Rape and other sexual violence committed against women and children by workers and security guards linked to logging, mining and plantation companies (Colombia, DRC, Guyana, Malaysia).
- Forced restriction on access and loss of freedom of movement as community rights-of-way are closed, physically eliminated or redirected when land is fenced off and privatised (Colombia, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia, Paraguay).
- Imposition of timber, agribusiness, mining, and oil and gas concessions on community forest territories without prior consultation and in direct violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) (all nine countries featured ion this report).
- Denial of access to justice and false imprisonment (Cameroon, DRC, Indonesia, Malaysia) and prohibitions on freedom of association and the right to protest (Cameroon, DRC, Malaysia, Peru).
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