Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bringing the law into disrepute

Over the weekend, seven Greenpeace activists, including actor Lucy Lawless, occupied a Shell drilling ship in an effort to delay its departure for the Arctic. The occupation has now ended, and the activists have been arrested and charged - with burglary.

This is simply overkill. While the crime (defined as "[entering] any building or ship, or part of a building or ship, without authority and with intent to commit a crime in the building or ship") technically applies, applying it where the crime intended to be committed is mere trespass makes a mockery of the law and brings it into disrepute. It also suggests that the police are playing politics, intervening in support of the polluters rather than acting as neutral keepers of the peace. But we knew that already, didn't we?

It will be interesting to see if this bullshit gets past a judge. If it does, then fortunately those accused of such serious offences are still entitled to a jury trial. It will be interesting to see if twelve random citizens really think that political protest is deserving of ten years imprisonment.