Court: Amsterdam was wrong to break up Extinction Rebellion protest
Amsterdam wrongly deprived 150 Extinction Rebellion protesters of their freedom when the police forcibly moved them onto buses while breaking up their protest in September 2020, the court in Amsterdam ruled, Het Parool reports.
The case revolved around an Extinction Rebellion protest on 18 September 2020. Some 350 protesters blocked the Zuidas in Amsterdam to protest against the climate policy. When some 150 of them refused to leave despite several police orders to do so, mayor Femke Halsema, as head of the security region, ordered the police to carry out “administrative relocations.”
In practice, this meant police officers forcibly moved the protesters onto buses and held them there for some time before taking them to the outskirts of the city to continue their protest.
The court ruled that this was a deprivation of liberty, which can only happen with a solid legal basis according to Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There was no such legal basis in this case, the court ruled.
Jesse Oberdorf of Extinction rebellion called it “great” that the court drew a clear line with its ruling. “Mayors throughout the Netherlands are using administrative relocations to remove protesters. This statement shows that they are crossing a line. Hopefully, this sets a precedent for the future treatment of protesters,” he said to Parool.
Lawyer Wil Eikelboom also hopes the ruling will make it harder for mayors to order administrative relocations. “It is good that the judge is now clearly putting an end to these practices,” he said to the newspaper.
Mayor Halsema has not yet responded to the ruling.