Kumasi, Aug. 30, GNA - The Global Ambassador of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, Kumi Naidoo, has joined other renowned social justice leaders to petition the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), United Kingdom (UK), to drop its cases against those involved in peaceful environmental protests.
“There are occasions of crisis, injustice or violence when protest through direct action is a reasonable, proportional, and necessary response.
“In these instances, certain peaceful but disruptive actions have a lawful excuse as has been made clear by the recent UK Supreme Court ruling in the case against Ziegler,” a petition jointly initialled by the Global Ambassador and some prominent human rights and environmental activists, noted.
The other signatories to the petition, a copy made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), included Baroness Jenny Jones, Lord Peter Hain and John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK.
The rest are Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now, as well as Stephen Corry, ex-Chief Executive Officer, Survival International, Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Green Party, amongst others.
The petition cited the example of the three young climate activists, who are currently on trial for allegedly committing an offence contrary to the Serious Organized Crime and Policing Act of 2005, and face a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
It said: “These are young Londoners who understand, as the report makes clear, that the effects of global heating will be felt disproportionately by the people of the global south.
“They climbed quietly and peacefully into the grounds of the Houses of Parliaments to hang a hand-painted letter on the side of the building asking for debt relief for African nations, just weeks before Zambia was forced into default,” the activists observed.
According to the petition, the protesters did this at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Africa, when healthcare systems, which had been underfunded due partly to the heavy debts and high interest rates which poorer nations were forced to pay, were struggling to cope with rising infections.
“The UK has a significant responsibility to take action on climate change due to the ‘legacy of colonialism’ which, in Africa, sees much of the land grabbed for extraction and mining projects that damage the people, their lands, and the prospects of future generations,” the activists stated.
The petition quizzed, “Should the UK put its young people in prison for telling that truth?” citing the case against three environmental protestors who face a possible six months sentence for climbing onto the Houses of Parliament in November last year.
They face trial in the City of London, this October.
The petitioners, justifying their submission, recounted that on August 9, 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a dire warning about the earth’s climate that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, declared a ‘Code Red’ for humanity.
“Given the absolute urgency we face with regard to the climate crisis, it is immoral and a breach of human rights to prosecute peaceful climate activists simply for saying what the Panel has just stated.
“It is wrong that young, peaceful protestors are being fined, locked up and put through severe mental strain simply for saying exactly what these experts now warn will come true in their lifetimes,” the petition argued.
It indicated that what could be expected of our young people when their professors and expert scientists “tell them that their future will become hell on earth?”
“How do we expect them to feel when they see global leaders of their parents’ generation doing nothing while the state prosecutes people - some even younger than themselves, for telling the truth?” the petition asked.
The appeal comes days after a further four cases were dropped at the Old Bailey, citing the UK Supreme Court ruling that says that: “In some instances protesters have a ‘lawful excuse’ to take certain disruptive actions
It is estimated that an estimated 2,500 protesters have been arrested since April, 2019, as part of the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ environmental movement.