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THE UN has flagged “grave concerns” regarding the British government’s authoritarian treatment of peaceful climate protesters and accused it of perpetuating “toxic discourse.”
UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders Michel Forst made an unprecedented intervention against “regressive” protest laws used to crackdown on campaigners.
He warned that Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain supporters are being subject to “persecution, penalisation or harassment."
Mr Forst condemned the Public Order Act, which was used to sentence one Just Stop Oil protester to six months’ imprisonment for slow marching on a public road, and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
“Prior to these legislative developments, it had been almost unheard of since the 1930s for members of the public to be imprisoned for peaceful protest in the UK,” he said.
“I am therefore seriously concerned by these regressive new laws.
“The right to protest is a basic human right. It is also an essential part of a healthy democracy.
“We are in the midst of a triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
“Environmental defenders are acting for the benefit of us all. It is therefore imperative that we ensure that they are protected.”
Mr Forst also criticised the use of civil injunctions to stop peaceful protest and the “toxic discourse” in the media about climate protesters.
“I am deeply troubled at the use of civil injunctions to ban protest in certain areas, including on public roadways,” he added.
“The fact that a significant number of environmental defenders are currently facing both a criminal trial and civil injunction proceedings for their involvement in a climate protest on a UK public road or motorway, and hence are being punished twice for the same action, is also a matter of grave concern to me.”
The Rev Tim Hewes, 73-year old priest, has been forced to lead church services while wearing a GPS ankle tag for two years after protesting outside News UK’s offices over media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s “suppression” of climate science.
He is one of 10 Just Stop Oil protesters being forced to wear ankle tags despite not being convicted of a crime.
A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said: “We take action because we know that the climate crisis represents the greatest threat to human rights that the planet has ever seen.
“People in the global South have been marked as ‘expendable’ in the pursuit of bloated oil profits.”
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