An Australian climate activist, Deanna “Violet” Coco has been handed a 15-month jail term for obstructing one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April as part of a demonstration to raise awareness of the emergency caused by climate change.
Clément Voule, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, expressed worry about the prison sentence against Coco by an NSW court and the rejection to grant her bail until an appeal hearing till March 2023.
In an online post, Voule said “I am alarmed at an NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing,”. “Peaceful protesters should never be criminalised or imprisoned,”.
Recall that on April 13, Coco and two other members of the environmental advocacy group Fireproof Australia stopped two automobiles on the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s southbound Cahill Expressway. They carried signs, fired flares, and broadcast their demonstration live online, demanding immediate climate action.
During the morning rush hour, the protesters obstructed one of the bridge’s five city-bound lanes for around 25 minutes before being dispersed by law enforcement.
As of Friday, Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison with an eight-month non-parole period after entering a guilty plea to seven counts before Magistrate Allison Hawkins in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court.
She will appeal her sentence. But she was denied bail on Friday, meaning that she will remain in detention while her appeals are underway. Her whole appeal will be heard on March 2, 2023, after a district court hearing on a bail application on December 13.
Story was adapted from The Guardian.