Killing Environmental Campaigners

Manifest and Latent Justifications


  • Vincenzo Ruggiero Middlesex University, UK


In 2018, at least 200 land and environmental defenders were murdered, the deadliest year on record. This trend is growing but also spreading: killings were dispersed across 24 countries, compared to 16 in 2015. With many killings unreported, and often uninvestigated, it is likely that the true number is far higher. The tide of violence is driven by intensified activity by companies that pursue profit in unexploited areas. This paper gives an account and classification of these killings, providing an analysis of the vast literature produced by environmental NGOs. Adopting a modified form of techniques of neutralisation and drawing on the distinction between manifest and latent justifications, the paper examines the responses provided by official actors who are called to account for these killings.