Climate protesters in Lausanne acquitted
The district court in the Swiss municipality of Renens, near Lausanne, has acquitted twelve climate activists charged with trespassing. In November 2018 they stormed a Credit Suisse branch and played tennis there in an action targeting star tennis player Roger Federer, who does ads for the bank, whitewashing its involvement in environmentally harmful businesses. Is the ruling just?
A dangerous precedence
Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees the acquittal of the climate activists as disastrous for fundamental reasons:
“As harmless as the activists' action was, the logic behind their acquittal is not. At least in a democracy, the appeal to a higher moral cause must never be used lightly to legitimise politically motivated violations of the law. Otherwise, in future all those who invoke a 'state of emergency' could place themselves above the law ... Governments and political groups have repeatedly cited an 'emergency' or 'self-defence' to justify their own actions that go against the democratic legal system. What they did was often not 'magnifique' but devastating.”
A boost for climate activism
The judgment is a hopeful sign for all those who are committed to the future of humanity, Le Courrier counters:
“Today no one, not even a depoliticized tennis player, can ignore the impact the financial centre [Switzerland] is having on the climate. ... The judiciary's recognition of the climate emergency and the imminent danger it poses gives new hope for the radical political change which must now take place around the world. In Switzerland, the verdict delivered on Monday in Renens sets the tone for the upcoming trials of many climate activists. It gives legitimacy to those who are committed to ensuring a decent future for humanity.”