The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has found that the arrest and detention of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise crew, including Tasmanian Colin Russell, for attempting to scale a drilling platform in the Arctic, was illegal. The court has ordered that the Netherlands, who brought the case, should be paid compensation.
Greens Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson, said, “This ruling is unequivocal: the arrest of Australian Colin Russell and the entire Arctic 30 was illegal.
“Throughout the time of Russell’s arrest and detention the Australian government spent more time criticising Colin Russell for being an activist than they spent criticising Russia for acting illegally against our own citizen.
“In fact, the government’s recent rhetoric about environmental activists mirrors exactly the language that the Russian Prime Minister was deploying about the Arctic 30 at the time.
“Authoritarian governments around the world, like Russia, are trying to silence environmental activists and we know the Australian government is displaying this attitude.
“The Liberal government’s use of Russell’s detention to make domestic political points was a sign of how it is using its time in office to demonise people who seek to defend the environment.
“The Member for Braddon, Brett Whiteley, should apologise for his rash attacks on Greenpeace when he accused them of flouting the laws of another country and said they should reimburse Australia for diplomatic costs.
“Whiteley wanted Greenpeace to apologise for their actions. Whiteley was wrong and he is the one who should apologise to Greenpeace and to Russell.
“This entire case raises questions about whether the Australian government used all the diplomatic and political tools it had available to support Russell, or whether the fact that Russell was an environmentalist influenced the amount of effort that was made.
“Julie Bishop and the Australian Government should immediately ensure that Russia pays this compensation and that it flows through to Colin Russell,” he concluded.
Christine Russell, the wife of Colin Russell, said, “It is a timely outcome given what our current government is trying to do with our own environmental laws and our right as individuals to protest.
“This ruling is so important as it sets a precedent. Governments exist to uphold the rule of law, not to act as armed security agents for the oil industry,” she concluded.