Denmark‘s parliament Nov. 26 passed legislation giving police sweeping powers of “pre-emptive” arrest and extending sentences for acts of civil disobedience. The law comes ahead of the UN talks on global climate change in Copenhagen, which start on Dec. 7 and are expected to attract thousands of protesters. Under the new powers, Danish police will be able to detain people for up to 12 hours under suspicion they might break the law in the near future.
The Danish police also issued a statement in August announcing new rules and regulations for protests at the climate conference, warning that “gatherings that may disturb the public order must not take place.” A Nov. 4 open letter by environmental activists after the law was announced described it as “deeply worrying” and called for the Danish government to uphold their right to legitimate protest.
Tannie Nyboe, Denmark representative of the group Climate Justice Action said the new law was designed to control civil disobedience during the summit. “These laws are a big restraint in people’s freedom of speech and it will increase the police repression for anyone coming to Copenhagen to protest. Denmark normally boasts of how open and democratic a country we are. With this law we can’t boast about this anymore.” (The Guardian, Nov, 26)