During its plenary session this week in Strasbourg, the European Parliament discussed the case of the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists detained in Russia and declared that the charges against the "Arctic 30
" by the Russians are "disproportionate”.
Russian authorities seized the Greenpeace ship on 19 September
, after their protest against a Gazprom-owned oil platform drilling in the Arctic Barents Sea.
Three of the 30 facing charges are from Devon in the South West of the United Kingdom. They are Alexandra Harris, Iain Rogers and freelance videographer Keiron Bryan.
Sadly, not one of the MEPs representing the South West region in the European Parliament voiced their opinion on the charges, although UKIP MEP The Earl of Dartmouth did speak in the debate but on the political issue of Russia nominating a judge to the European Court of Human Rights.
Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson was the only one of the six South West MEPs amongst the 101 MEPs that signed a statement of solidarity for the Arctic 30 (see photo above).
Just before the debate got under way, the Russian authorities announced that they would replace the piracy charges against the activists and journalists with charges of hooliganism
, which carry a shorter period of detention.
But these charges are nonetheless "disproportionate", said MEPs, stressing that they could also be seen as a threat to democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of demonstration.
MEPs called on the Council and Commission to take action to ensure the release of the detainees. The arbitration procedure initiated by the Netherlands to have the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea enforced was welcomed.
Labels: Graham Watson, William Dartmouth