Yesterday, police visited a camp site at Colo Valley, resulting in several arrests of climate campaigners and the reported detention of approximately 30 people at the property.
“The reported policing over the weekend at Colo Valley appears to be heavy-handed and is cause for concern,” said NSWCCL spokesperson Stephen Blanks.
“NSWCCL has expressed concerns about increasingly harsh and disproportionate laws and actions taken against political protestors in recent years, and supports victims of such laws and actions,” Mr Blanks said. “The legal right to peaceful protest is fundamental to our democracy. Protests hold governments to account and make our country better. The police need to take extra care to assure the community that their actions are justifiable.”
Recent comprehensive research on threats to climate defenders in Australia released by Human Rights Law Centre, Greenpeace and the Environmental Defenders Office last year, found that “in Australia the ability of communities and organisations to advocate for stronger climate action has come under sustained attack”.
Governments and police have accrued additional powers through recent amendments to existing laws and police have shown a willingness to use such laws to suppress protests, particularly where corporate interests are threatened.
NSWCCCL is concerned that these police actions may pose a threat to citizens’ rights to protest. The freedom to come together to express our opinions on issues we care deeply about is precious and should be protected and respected by governments and the police.