XR CONSCIENTIOUS PROTECTORS
If you are arrested and charged as an Extinction Rebellion activist you may wish to use the Conscientious Protector approach in a criminal court as a way of ensuring you get to fully express the reasons WHY you have taken non-violent direct action. By doing this you are also taking part in a wider narrative of reframing those standing up to sound the alarm on climate breakdown as Conscientious Protectors (not criminals).
Below is a summary of key points and stages in the process. Please make sure you are a signed-up Earth Protector - if you can do this before taking direct action, so much the better.
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE APPROACH
KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER
Give the court a reason to listen to you: state why your conscience informs you.
Back up any assertion you make with primary evidence.
Keep it simple.
In the 20th Century, conscientious objectors argued for the Right to Freedom of Conscience - and won.
1. Conscientious Protectors of today can argue the Right to Freedom of Conscience, which is now a Universal Human Right (Article 9 ECHR, Article 18 UDHR). You can rely on it in court to assist your defence and show that you are acting to protect against harm, not to cause it.
2. Primary evidence of CP: present your Earth Protectors Trust Fund (EPTF) Document as primary evidence to establish why you are a Conscientious Protector (CP)
3. Keep it simple: primary evidence of a) serious harm, b) governmental knowledge & c) failure to protect. In a nutshell, runaway climate change is imminent if drastic cuts are not made (IPCC); government has knowledge of climate (Paris Agreement); but has failed to protect (inconsistent policies, fracking etc).
Litigants in person (representing yourself without a barrister): you have an advantage.
The court has to give you more time to speak if you are representing yourself & must assist you with the court process. CPs are already gaining traction in the courts: they are being heard, they are raising awareness and each time, the way is being paved for a judge to acquit a CP on the basis that he/she was acting from their conscience to protect from climate extinction. You are rebelling with good conscience.
POST ARREST After you have been arrested you will receive written notification of a date to attend the to attend the Magistrates Court/Crown Court for a first hearing. So prepare: if you intend to plead not guilty (which is the best context for the CP approach), consider whether to call an expert witness. This is your choice - you have adequate documentary evidence without one but you may have particular reasons for requesting one. If so contact him/her and be sure to have their “dates to avoid” to give to the court. Be sure your expert is a recognised expert in their field.
FIRST COURT HEARING Directions and a trial date are set (if you plead not guilty). Prosecution will give you disclosure of documents (summary, evidence and disclosure list). This is the information they have about your charge and the circumstances leading to it.
This is when you can make an application for an expert witness. Inform the court of his/her name, area of expertise and dates to avoid.
Notify the court that you will be preparing a bundle for your Trial. This is important. The court will give directions as to when this must be served on the Prosecution and the Court.
(If you plead guilty, you may be sentenced. You can still present your statement of conscience and any other docs you wish to present to the court to help mitigate your sentence.)
DOCUMENTS TO SERVE ON THE COURT
Conscientious Protector Statement- this is for you to set out fully why you did what you did (factual: what informs your beliefs and what actions you have already taken, what the mission and aims are of XR).
Primary evidence of CP: print out your Earth Protectors Trust Fund document - your primary evidence to establish that you are acting from a place of good conscience. You will have received this by email.
Primary evidence of serious harm, governmental knowledge & failure to protect:
a) what the serious harm is (climate: best report is the Special Report IPCC 1.5)
b) what the government knows (Paris Agreement) and
c) how the government is failing in their responsibility to protect. (eg judgements against government for pollution, gov’t policies to support fracking, etc)
Any other documents (eg evidence of how you personally, or others, have taken action without resolution)
The court will want to know your defence, which in XR’s case will be to prevent a greater crime (crime against humanity). Download XR-CP Defence Submission template HERE. NB we also have a comprehensive dossier for anti-fracking activists available on request.
1 -5 is your Court Bundle. The court (judge/magistrates & prosecution) will require copies of your bundle, either in paper form or on memory sticks (check with the court) Remember to print out your copy to use at court.
*****NONE OF YOUR DOCS WILL BE READ IF YOU DO NOT SERVE & PRESENT THEM IN COURT *****