Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Judge upheld rights of Lucas Heights anti nuclear activists

..Conscientious protestors and activists should not expect immunity from the laws they break….. But in some cases, society’s interest in seeing its laws challenged and broken is greater than its interest in seeing them enforced...the judge dismissed the charges without conviction..….In some cases, as the courts recognise, breaking the law is rightly not illegal.

Is breaking the law always illegal? | Greenpeace International, by Daniel Simons – January 11, 2011 Early in the morning of 17 December 2001, a group of intruders penetrated the area inside the perimeter fence surrounding the Lucas Heights nuclear plant, Australia’s only reactor.

The plant’s operator, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), had  only recently announced that security around the facility had been upgraded, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. It was an important moment to reassure the public, as ANSTO was in the process of applying for a permit to construct a second reactor on the site.

The intruders arrived in two groups. The first entered the facility via a fence at the rear, while the second group wandered in through the front gate, unopposed by the two security guards on duty. Once inside the secure zone, they stopped and milled around, cutting an amusing figure in their bumbling radioactive waste barrel outfits. Meanwhile, the first group had scaled one of the buildings on the site and was unfurling a banner that read: “Nuclear. Never safe!”

Like many Greenpeace actions, it was a confrontational act designed to tell the public an important story through a simple, compelling image. And like many Greenpeace actions, it ended when the police arrived, rounding up and arresting 46 activists for trespass…………

Civil disobedience and non-violent direct action (NVDA) have a long and honourable history in democracies. Because it is usually a gaping hole in the public consciousness which drives individuals to risk their freedom by taking action, activists often face scorn, and an appreciation of the justification for their deeds does not emerge until much later, once public consciousness has matured –often thanks in part to the debate kick-started by the activist…….

Conscientious protestors and activists should not expect immunity from the laws they break. This does not mean, however, that their motives and the contribution they make to public debate should be disregarded. In some cases, society’s interest in seeing its laws challenged and broken is greater than its interest in seeing them enforced.

When the 46 activists penetrated the Lucas Heights reactor site, they demonstrated the woefully inadequate security arrangements in a graphic and indisputable way. “It was not the case”, observed Judge Latham of the District Court of New South Wales, “that the objectives and motives of the defendants could have been achieved by demonstrating at the front gate.” The activists had believed their actions justified in bringing a matter of serious concern to the attention of the Australian public. Finding that “the right to protest and the right to express publicly one’s view, albeit by direct action, is one which is to be valued and protected in the context of a modern democracy”, the judge dismissed the charges without conviction…………In some cases, as the courts recognise, breaking the law is rightly not illegal.

Is breaking the law always illegal? | Greenpeace International

January 12, 2011 - Posted by | legal, New South Wales

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: