How Dare You: U.N. Attacks ‘Severe’ Jail Sentences for Climate Protesters

Just Stop Oil activists protesting outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in Victoria Street, central London. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

The UK government was warned Tuesday by the U.N. that handing out long jail sentences to climate protesters could stifle public displays of dissent.

The Just Stop Oil protesters in question caused traffic gridlock after scaling the Dartford Crossing Bridge for almost 40 hours in October last year, as Breitbart News reported.

They were later accused of having “blood on their hands” after two women died in car crashes after being diverted from the bridge after the anti-fossil fuel activists had shut it down.

Eco-extremists in Britain have a history of blocking motorwaysjunctions, and city centre intersections.

The BBC reports Morgan Trowland, 40, was jailed for three years and Marcus Decker, 34, for two years for causing a public nuisance.

In response to the U.N., the BBC report set out the government maintained the right to protest is a fundamental part of the UK’s democracy but the “law-abiding majority” must be able to go about their daily business.

At an appeal hearing last month Lady Chief Justice, Lady Carr defended the sentences, saying they met a “legitimate” aim of deterring others from such offending. The activists were refused permission to challenge them in the Supreme Court.

The warning comes in a letter shown to BBC News, sent to the government by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry, on 15 August this year.

File/Anti-fossil-fuel protesters from the “Just Stop Oil” campaign group hang suspended in hammocks from the Dartford Crossing in Dartford, UK, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Police closed the major road bridge linking Essex and Kent after two people “climbed onto the bridge and are currently at height”, according to The Press Association. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty)

A protester holds a placard during a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice in solidarity with the climate activists jailed for scaling the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge on the Dartford Crossing. The two Just Stop Oil activists, Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker, with Marcus, a German national, facing deportation. (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

The sentences are “significantly more severe than previous sentences imposed for this type of offending in the past,” Fry notes, adding he is worried about “the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

The letter goes on to say the new Public Order Act which came into force in July “appears to be a direct attack on the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly.”

The new legislation includes measures aimed at curbing disruptive protests, the BBC notes.

RELATED: “We Need To Go To Work!” Commuters Angered by Climate Protest Road Blockades in London


The letter sent in mid-August requested a reply within 60 days but has not received one, which the U.N. special rapporteur described as “troubling.”

“Most countries take these letters seriously and respond,” Fry told BBC News. He suggested the lack of a formal reply reflected “a general disregard for human rights concerns by the current government”.

The Home Office said it had “responded” to the special rapporteur’s letter.

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