Tuesday, 22 December 2009

::22 12 09::

NGOs and civil society groups have accused Denmark of obstructing the democratic process after nearly 2000 people were arrested in Copenhagen during the UN climate summit.

An official letter of complaint will be written to the Danish Police and the UN after the “outrageous way that Denmark prevented people from exercising their democratic right to protest," said Kirsty Wright, Senior Campaigns officer for the World Development Movement.

Friend’s of the Earth, the World Development Movement and the Jubilee Debt Campaign will use the pattern of mass arrests during the summit as well as raids on parties and activist sleeping quarters and the arrests of high-profile spokesmen and women as examples of the divisive tactics used by police to disrupt the organisation of demonstrations.

Their frustration comes after the UK Ambassador for Denmark Riis Jergensen wrote to a group of NGOs ahead of the COP15. He ensured the group that a revision to Danish laws to give police the power to arrest people who they thought might provoke violence would not infringe upon people's "legal right to protest peacefully” in Denmark. Yesterday Mr Jergensen reiterated that, “Events during the last fortnight do not contradict my statement. Police solved the tremendous challenge very professionally."

Jonathan Stevenson, Campaigns Officer for the Jubilee Debt Campaign, believes, “Denmark wanted to avoid the embarrassment of protest playing a central role in the summit. Their efforts went so far that now the embarrassment has swung in the opposite direction. We will investigate police behaviour fully to ensure that the outlawing of public participation will ever happen again."

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