Amsterdam/Sydney 18 March 2014 --- The group of Greenpeace activists and freelance journalists who collectively became known as the ‘Arctic 30’ yesterday, including Australian Colin Russell and permanent residents Alex Harris (Sydney) and Jon Beauchamp (Adelaide), applied to the European Court of Human Rights requesting damages from the Russian Federation, as well as a declaration that their apprehension and detention were unlawful.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the group say their abduction by armed Russian security agents in international waters and subsequent imprisonment for a peaceful protest breached two key provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Russia acceded to the convention in 1998.
Lawyer Sergey Golubok, acting on behalf of the Arctic 30, said:
“We think the Arctic 30 were apprehended and detained in flagrant violation of applicable international and Russian laws, and that's why we have submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.”
"The reaction of the Russian authorities was completely disproportionate to the peaceful protest that took place. These activists tried to shine a light on the risks of Arctic oil drilling, and yet they were met with a response that bore no relation to their actions."
The application asks the European Court to make a ‘declaratory judgment’ that the Russian Federation breached their rights under the ECHR: to liberty (Article 5) and freedom of expression (Article 10).
Lawyers argue that all thirty men and women were unlawfully deprived of their liberty for more than two months – from the 18 and 19 September 2013 until they were released on bail between the 20 November and 28 November 2014.
According to the complaint, Russia also breached their right to freedom of expression by taking ‘grossly excessive’ measures against a peaceful protest, and by boarding the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise before detaining the crew first at sea and then in Russian jail for over two months.
They are seeking compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of being unlawfully detained and costs and expenses associated with defending their cases in Russia and bring their case to the European Court.
It could take a year or more for the European Court to communicate the case to Russia, based on past cases. However, Greenpeace urges the Court to take up the case as soon as possible.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Alison Orme 0432 332 104
International press desk: +31 20 718 24 70 or
Greenpeace International picture desk: +31 20 718 24 71
Greenpeace International video desk: +31 6 4619 7322
* The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise continues to be detained in Murmansk after being towed to the port city in September. It has now been in the custody of Russian authorities for nearly six months.
* Last week, a St Petersburg court denied Greenpeace International’s formal petition to seek access to the ship which has been left in freezing waters to determine whether necessary maintenance has been conducted after the arrest of the ship and during the ongoing investigation.