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Denmark: Greenpeace verdict introduces collective punishment in Danish law
01 June 2005
In a court verdict on Friday, 10 June, the environmental organisation Greenpeace Nordic was sentenced to pay 30.000 Danish kroner (4.000 €) for being the responsible organisation behind a group of activists, who had climbed to the top of the headquarters of the Danish Agriculture Council in the centre of Copenhagen on 13 October 2003. Having barricaded the entrance with heavy chains and locks they hoisted a banner denouncing the use of GMO food.
When the police came the activists peacefully went to the police station and were all released shortly after. The activists have each accepted a fine of 1.500 Danish kroner for entering the building without permission. Their climbing equipment has been confiscated.
The new development came when Greenpeace Nordic were charged as being responsible for the action. This was made possible because the Danish Penal Code (§ 306 (1)) was amended in 2002 to follow the recommendations of the UN and EU provisions on fighting terrorism. In this particular case Greenpeace have been sentenced according to a paragraph, which can hold a company or organisation responsible for its members' individual acts.
The General Secretary of Greenpeace Nordic, Mr. Lennart Daléus, said afterwards:
"The fine is big for an organisation like ours, who only funds our work through voluntary contributions from individuals. This verdict shows with great clarity that the politicians and others, who expressed concern that the terror law could also be used to other things than to deal with international terrorism, were right. The verdict is a break with the fundamental principals in a democratic society where the individual is responsible for their own actions. This case means that collective punishment have been introduced in Denmark."
Since Greenpeace Nordic were charged (see Statewatch News Online, May 2005, see below) the police argued that this was not a terror case, and that they only wanted Greenpeace sentenced for entering private property and thereby sending a signal that can deter other organisations from doing the same. In court the public attorney asked for Greenpeace to be fined 100.000 d.kr.
The position of the police have during the whole case been questioned by the defence with reference to the fact that the amendment made this particular paragraph broader only to follow the international decisions in UN and EU regarding terror, and that Greenpeace Nordic would not have been charged had it not been because of this change.
The defence lawyer, Mr. Steen Bech, told Statewatch
"I think that a lot of the politicians now feel that this is an unpleasant case and that this use of the amendment was not what they intended. This amendment is a very fundamental change of the Penal Code, which is being sneaked into the law, this way."
Statewatch News Online, May 2004
Greenpeace charged under anti-terror laws
The Danish branch of Greenpeace, the international environmental campaigning organization, was charged yesterday (11 May 2005) under laws adopted to implement UN and EU law on the financing of acts of terrorism.
The acts in question occurred on 13 October 2003 when Greenpeace activists staged a protest against the widespread use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in animal feed on Danish farms. The protest took place outside of and on the roof of the Agricultural Council in the centre of Copenhagen which is opposite of the famous Tivoli amusement park. In front of the building Greenpeace had set-up an information stand and was handing out balloons to children with a text saying "GMO - no thanks!". Then, as part of the protest, 15 activists entered the council headquarters, went up on the roof and unfolded a banner. Mr. Dan Belusa, Nordic GMO coordinator for Greenpeace, explained to Statewatch that:
"Nothing was broken during the event and the activists went peacefully with the police to the station where they were questioned and re