At least 126 activists killed in Latin America in 2023 -report

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least 126 human rights and environmental defenders were murdered in Latin America in 2023, according to data from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) published on Tuesday, matching the previous year's figure.

The IACHR, an autonomous organ of the Washington-based Organization of American States, expressed alarm over "high rates of violence" against human rights defenders in the region, where 54 assassinations were reported just in the year's final three months.

"As in previous years, this violence was particularly directed against those defending land and the environment, as well as leaders of indigenous groups and communities of African descent," IACHR said in a statement.

Colombia was the deadliest country for environmental and human rights activists, with murders rising to 34 last year from 26 in 2022.

Brazil was second with 10 murders, followed by Mexico with four, and Guatemala, Honduras and Peru with three, two and one assassination respectively.

The IACHR congratulated Mexico's budget increase aimed at bolstering a government program for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, while expressing concern over the killings of four human rights defenders.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez; Editing by Sandra Maler)