Norway court rules police unreasonably fined Indigenous activists – JURIST

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A Norwegian court Tuesday acquitted Indigenous activists who refused to pay their fines for blocking entrances to government buildings during a protest. The court held that the police who issued the fines to the protestors acted unreasonably.

In its ruling, the court recognized the defendants’ right to a peaceful assembly and demonstration. It ruled that the police response to the protest (including taking the protestors to the police station and fining them) violated their rights under Section 101 of the Constitution and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court highlighted the fines as unnecessary and disproportionate reactions to the protests.

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Eighteen Indigenous Sami activists participated in demonstrations in February and March 2023 in opposition to the operation of wind turbines in the Fosen region. The demonstrators blocked entrances to governmental buildings and were arrested. The demonstrators refused to pay the fines.

Lawyers Olaf Halvorsen Rønning and Anne Marie Gulichsen, who acted for the activists, praised the acquittal in a statement with Elden Advokatfirma. Gulichsen highlighted that this ruling emphasized the importance of the right to peaceful demonstration in a democracy such as Norway.

Protests against the turbine operation have been ongoing since their announcement in 2018. The turbines take up the same land as traditional reindeer herding grounds and have since been ordered to be removed under a 2021 Norwegian Supreme Court ruling. However, this has not been complied with, leading to an increase in Indigenous protests over recent years.

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