Tens of thousands protestors braved the bone-chilling cold and took to the streets of Copenhagen last year to protest the intractable stalemate and posturing that characterized the COP15 climate talks. Of those thousands, nearly 2000 were preemptively arrested and detained by Danish police.
A Danish court ruled this week that all mass, preemptive arrests made between December 11th and 16th 2009 were illegal, ordering the police to pay between 5,000 9,000 DKK (about $887 to $1600) to each of the 250 protestors who have thus far issued complaints on their treatment by police.
“This is a really important outcome,” said Nina Liv Brøndum, who was arrested on December 12th. “It means that people don’t have to fear getting randomly arrested when they go to demonstrations, which many of us experienced during the Climate Summit. It was a very rough experience, not only because we were treated cruelly but because we were denied our most fundamental rights.”
Knud Foldschack, one of the lawyers for the protestors, said the court ruling was a vindication for human rights and the rule of law:
“The events on the 12th of December 2009 have damaged the reputation of Denmark abroad,” he said. “A lot of internationals came to Denmark to demonstrate with an expectation that Denmark was a country where you don’t have to fear the police. They were deeply disappointed.”
“This verdict is a clear signal to the Danish Parliament that they should stop degrading legal rights in Denmark in order to comply with international conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights,” added Foldschack.
Voice recordings of police radio communication suggest that even members of the press on hand to cover the events were not immune from brutal treatment at the hands of police. The recordings, obtained and broadcast this week by Danish national broadcaster DR, reveal riot police specifically ordering assaults on the press:
“I know there is a lot of press standing in front, but they are in a risky zone… so just slash at them,” one officer is heard saying. “They are part of this if they stand there. I want to see that damned baton glowing red.”
Image credit: Synne Tonidas, courtesy Flickr