The UK is leading the way in a ‘terrifying’ continent-wide crackdown on peaceful climate protestors.
Draconian legislative changes, heavy-handed policing and the branding of environmental defenders as ’eco-terrorists’ and ‘saboteurs’ are accelerating across Europe, according to research by the Guardian.
The UN’s special rapporteur on environmental defenders, Michel Forst, told the Guardian that other countries were looking to the UK and modelling their response to increasing climate protests on the crackdown here.
He said: ‘Since my appointment I have been travelling to many countries in Europe and there is a clear trend. We can see an increasing number of cases by which these climate activists are brought to court more and more often and more and more severe laws being passed to facilitate these attacks on defenders.’
Forst added that he was sure police forces across Europe were collaborating in order to coordinate repressive responses to climate protests.
In the UK, the passage of the Public Order Act has effectively criminalised many forms of disruptive protest, and has given the police increased powers to intervene. It specifically criminalises non-violent tactics including locking yourself to objects or buildings recently adopted by groups like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil.
A spokesperson for the UK Home Office said: ‘The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy but we must also protect the law-abiding majority’s right to go about their daily lives.
‘The Public Order Act brings in new criminal offences and proper penalties for selfish, guerrilla protest tactics.’