Environmental activists' prosecution underlines a democratic crisis

A U.N. report highlights the increasing criminalization of environmental activism in Europe, presenting serious implications for human rights and democratic processes.

Keerti Gopal and Bob Berwyn report for Inside Climate News.


In short:

  • The U.N. Special Rapporteur underscores the need for legal protections for environmental protesters, facing increasing criminalization in Europe.
  • New U.S. state laws are intensifying penalties for environmental activism, framing it as a threat to 'critical infrastructure.'
  • European governments are urged to align their practices with international environmental human rights treaties.

Key quote:

The report has relevance for the United States because “the U.S. is one of the countries that keeps undermining the right to healthy environments in international processes."

— Sébastien Duyck, a senior attorney with the Center for International Environmental Law

Why this matters:

The criminalization of environmental advocacy suppresses critical discourse on environmental issues that directly impact public health. This trend, as the article suggests, threatens the fabric of democracy and the ability of advocates to influence national and international environmental policies.

Youth environmental activism has moved us forward in many ways—but to maximize this impact we need coalitions that learn from the past in order to prepare for the future.

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