In 2018, direct action was held during the Action Days of Climate Camp in the Czech Republic, during which the Bílina coal mine was blocked and occupied for several hours. The action was terminated after a few hours when the police arrested appr. 280 people. The coal company Sev.en owned by coal baron Pavel Tykač, subsequently sued 90 people for alleged damages caused by blockade to the company (appr. 28 000 EUR).
These 90 people were sued entirely by chance, including people with solid alibis (e.g. attending a wedding). One clear example of absurdity: there was also a worker of the coal company among the sued people, who was wrongly identified by the police as a perpetrator. We consider it clear that coal companys' efforts are not about the lost money, but about bullying and frightening climate activists.
Our legal team has been supporting these people for over five years. They live the whole time in uncertainty about how the case is going to develop and whether they will have to pay or not. And due to the nature of the lawsuit, it will be enough if at least one of the sued people will be found liable and that person has to pay full amount of alleged damage.
WHY DO WE NEED THE MONEY NOW?
The legal team consists of professional barristers, lawyers, students of law and volunteers. Although most of the team is working for free, the operating costs are growing yearly. At the moment, some of the cases are held at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, as we believe that the Czech courts have not proceeded correctly in all respects and we are therefore trying to guarantee a fair trial for the activists. To be sure that we will be able to cover all our legal costs, we need to get at least 150.000,- CZ (approx. 6250 EUR), which we are now trying to fundraise.
MORE INFO ABOUT THE LEGAL TEAM AND ITS ACHIEVEMENTS
The legal team is providing its services since 2017, currently supporting more than 150 activists in their ongoing cases from different direct actions. They are mainly focusing on defending people who are accused of participation in direct actions. Every action supported by the legal team is based on action consensus, where one of the main values is non-violence.
Although the main focus is on defending individuals who are threatened by punishments from authorities, we are also able to work on improving the legal environment in the Czech Republic through the cases we are working on. Some examples:
- after our intervention lawsuits against the random mass legitimation (basically every person coming to the climate camp was IDed at police checkpoints, although not making anything illegal), the police produced a new methodology to provide officers with clear procedures and forbidding the mass legitimation as a method of profiling the participants of climate camps or other events.
- after our intervention lawsuits about police behaviour against the foreign participants, the courts recognized that police officers were acting wrongly (not providing water, leaving people cuffed in a hot environment in direct sun, addressing people in a vulgar way, etc.), which led to improvement of police behaviour in following actions.
- after our intervention lawsuits against police removing journalists from the direct actions, so they are not able to document what police is doing during interventions against activists, the court recognized that there is a strong public interest in documenting police actions and the journalists should be able to do it and police should not be obstructing it.
MORE ABOUT LIMITY
Limity jsme my ("We Are the Limits") is an open grassroots civic movement focusing mainly on criticism of coal mining and burning in the Czech Republic from a climate justice perspective. Limity jsme my was founded in 2015 in the context of debates about the possibility of breaking the mining limits in North Bohemia. The most visible activity of the movement was the organisation of five climate camps in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022.
Do you wanna get in touch? Feel free to contact us on social media or by mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)