Amnesty International Canada is calling on the B.C. government not to treat pipeline protesters as criminals.
Nearly 200 people have been arrested and given a civil charge for violating a B.C. Supreme Court injunction after protesting at the Trans Mountain terminal gates in Burnaby, but the B.C. Prosecution Service announced this week protesters may see criminal contempt charges.
But the organization says peaceful protests are an international human right the government must uphold. Laying criminal charges should be avoided except when protesters have endangered lives or property, they say.
“How to respond to individuals who deliberately violate the protest injunction … should not be determined solely by whether or not a private corporation pursues enforcement. However, unnecessary criminalization of protesters is quite simply not the answer,” Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada said in a release.
“The protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline are clearly an act of conscience, motivated by a concern for our common environment and the rights of others. This, not the defiance of the court injunction, should be the determining factor in deciding upon the appropriate response.”