Justice for our Earth - role of the conscientious protector

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Here's a story - a true story - of a small act with potentially long-term consequences for the law.

UK academic Dr. Peter Whittick unexpectedly found himself one night with a dilemma. Having pulled into a service station, he noticed a drill rig parked up - a rig being used for fracking in the UK. Dr. Whittick recognised it - and could not square it with his conscience to pass on by: he knew what it was about to be used for, and he knew the consequences of fracking. 

Moreover, he knew that to attempt to do something to bring it to the public's attention could result in him being arrested as a criminal. Yet he wanted to protect the public from the harm to which this machinery contributes -  a potential looming ecocide, an ecological and a climate crime. 

Peter listened to his conscience. At 3.30 in the morning, just before the rig was to be driven off, he climbed the rig and contacted the press. 10 hours later he climbed off the rig and was arrested.

Yesterday a District Judge found him guilty. But of what precisely? Of being a Conscientious Protector.  He, and others who have the courage to take action to prevent a more serious harm are being criminalised for their actions. Yet the company causing the serious harm is protected in law. 

This is the plight of many activists: to stand up to prevent a more serious harm is to be at risk of being convicted whilst the perpetrators of the harm go free. The scales of justice are broken. And this is where we can help: by supporting the protectors.

 

Conscience and the law

Quakers were once criminalised for asserting their conscientious objection to war. Many were sent to prison for their beliefs. Likewise throughout history whenever there has been an injustice, individuals and communities have acted on their conscience to either object or prevent: the abolitionists who stood up against slavery, all who stood with Ghandi, the Protestant reformation, the anti-apartheid movement, women’s suffrage, the American civil rights movement and many more throughout the world.

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In World War II, the UK granted conscientious-objection status to pacifists and to all who objected to fighting in WW2.  The freedom to assert your conscience was enshrined in law as a universal right. After WW2, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights codified the Freedom of Religion, Conscience or Belief (Article 18). No longer is a Conscientious Objector imprisoned for refusing to fight at war.

 

Standing for the Earth: Conscientious Protectors

Where Conscientious Objectors, from a place of deep moral concern, objected to a serious harm and refused to take part in it, Conscientious Protectors are acting from that same place and going one step further, impelled by their conscience to take action to prevent that harm. This action can be as simple as the signing of a petition, writing to a parliamentarian or having a conversation with friends and family to raise awareness of that harm.  It can be signing up as an Earth Protector.  Or, as with Dr Peter Whittick, it can be the direct action of placing their bodies in the way of imminent harm to the Earth.

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History shows that when norms are challenged, law at some point must change. Just as generations of reformers and grassroots movements challenged the status quo before us, so too do the Conscientious Protectors of the 21st century who stand up to protect our Earth.

 

Mission LifeForce: working directly with Conscientious Protectors

Our team here at the Base have been legally assisting Peter and other Conscientious Protectors who are willing to stand in court on point of conscience. By his and other cases going to appeal, we know that their right to Freedom of Conscience can be heard at the Crown Court (and if need be, at a higher court level). We believe that there is missing law - the crime of ecocide - and by bringing to the fore in criminal courts the right to Freedom of Conscience we can seek justice from higher courts. 

This work comes out of our core costs, as it is not covered by Earth Protectors Trust Fund monies (which are for the exclusive purpose of forwarding a law of ecocide with climate-vulnerable states at the international level).  Our direct support work with Conscientious Protectors plays a key part however, in making visible to the judiciary the role of conscience in protecting the Earth, and making visible the harm (ecocide) that can be prevented by acts of conscience.

If you are inspired to help us with this important legal support, please gift to our Team HERE - and please continue to spread the word about Mission LifeForce by sharing the website (sharing links at side/bottom of page).