risk to activists
Gluing, blocking, sabotaging: These are the penalties for climate protests
Climate protest can be expensive. Anyone stuck on the street risks a fine that can quickly run into four figures. In the meantime, however, some judgments have also been mild, while some prosecutors are bringing out bigger artillery.
Stick it, block it, throw it with pulp: For a good year now, the “last generation” has been protesting for more speed in the fight against climate change. Activists recently announced that they would expand their actions nationwide and “interrupt” everyday life in Germany. Conservative circles promptly used the announcement to warn again against the radicalization of the protests. But where the often invoked “red lines” exactly run, the courts have to clarify on a case-by-case basis – and only sometimes do the climate protectionists get lucky.
Judge with understanding for climate protest
At the beginning of January, a judge in Flensburg caused a stir with one of the few acquittals for a protester. The defendant wanted to save a grove from deforestation with the help of a tree occupation. Although the magistrate found that it was trespassing, she still considered the action to be legal. Their reasoning: the felling of the tree would accelerate climate change, the climate protector could therefore refer to an “emergency”.
How far-reaching the verdict will be and whether it would withstand an appeal is not yet foreseeable. So far, most lawyers consider it to be a minority opinion. However, two years ago, the Federal Constitutional Court warned that the federal government was not doing justice to its own climate protection legislation. The only question is whether this results in a kind of right to resistance and which forms of protest enjoy “constitutional protection” – and of course what penalties result from it.
2500 ads against “Last Generation”
So far, however, the law enforcement authorities and many courts have shown little understanding when it comes to climate protests. In Berlin alone, around 1,000 criminal charges were filed against members of the “Last Generation”. According to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, there should be more than 2,500 nationwide. In many cases, this is about necessity. The first appeal by an activist was recently heard before the Berlin district court. The 21-year-old had blocked a motorway with fellow campaigners and was sentenced to 30 daily rates of 20 euros each.
The current decision of the Nuremberg district court against four so-called “climate stickers” was of a similar dimension. A year ago, the defendants stuck to the busy Frankenschnellweg and blocked it. All must pay a fine of 40 daily rates. The exact amount depends on income and is between ten and 60 euros in these cases. Unlike in the capital, it is not yet clear whether those affected will appeal.
“The Constitutional Court is the place to discuss this”
The Berlin regional court confirmed the verdict against the 21-year-old last week because the accused “used violence through the blockade”. The appeal decision comes as no surprise to the convict and his attorney. Rather, they expect to complain through the instances up to the highest court: “The constitutional court is the right place to discuss this,” said the defense attorney.
The range of allegations against the climate protectors has been relatively manageable so far: In general, it ranges from coercion to trespassing to property damage. In most cases, fines are due, only in Bavaria the clocks tick differently. For example, 33 protesters who had repeatedly blocked roads were taken into preventive detention to prevent them from taking further action. This type of preliminary punishment is controversial, constitutional courts are already dealing with it. In any case, some of the activists even had to spend the Christmas days in custody.
Climate activists a “criminal organization”?
In the meantime, however, the prosecutors are also bringing out bigger guns. The public prosecutor’s office in Neuruppin is investigating members of the “Last Generation” on suspicion of forming a criminal organization. Reason: Attacks on a refinery in Schwedt. An oil pipeline from Poland arrives there; it was repeatedly the target of sabotage and blockades in the spring of last year. Then there were raids on a dozen climate protectors. Later, at a conference of interior ministers, some federal states led by the union called for the “last generation” to be treated as a criminal organization.
Sources: DPA, AFP, constitution Blog,daily News, taz, BR24