12/12/2019

Two people were this week charged under the Queensland government’s controversial “lock on laws”, just days after the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemned the new legislation.

On Monday 35 year old ecologist Tom Cotter and 59 year old arborist Simon Ennew were charged with “using a dangerous attachment device” after locking themselves to heavy machinery on Adani’s Carmichael rail corridor.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights found regarding the laws “We are seriously concerned that the Act allows for the criminalisation of peaceful protests that may entail blocking access to roads or buildings; acts of civil disobedience; and non-violent direct action… A certain level of disruption to ordinary life caused by assemblies, including disruption of traffic, annoyance and even harm to commercial activities, must be tolerated if the right (of political assembly) is not to be deprived of substance.”

The report also expressed “concern about the short time period allocated for scrutiny and adoption of the above-mentioned Act, which curtailed prior consultation.

“Finally, we would like to mention that in his 2016 mission report to Australia, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders raised concerns about “the trend of introducing constraints by state and territory governments on the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly, in particular through “anti-protest legislation”.”

Ecologist Tom Cotter said “the protest on Monday was peaceful and respectful, as these types of demonstrations usually are. And far from being a dangerous device, the lock-on helped de-escalate the situation as it was clear I was locked to a machine and no threat to safety. These laws have again been found to be without substance at the most basic level.

“If we look around the country right now, it’s clear the real danger to safety is our government’s reckless inaction on climate change; and their attempts to criminalise one of the few effective techniques ordinary citizens have of trying to protect our future.”

For the UN Human Rights report: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24922

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