Nov 20, 2009

Court case launched against FoE Croatia

by Krista Stryker — last modified Nov 20, 2009 11:35 PM

The Croation Ministry of Environment is attempting to shut down Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia due to a peaceful protest the group held in March.

FoE Croatia March protestZagreb, Croatia, Sept 23, 2009 -- The Croatian Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Construction has launched a case at the Court of Offences in Zagreb against the biggest Croatian Environmental NGO,  Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia, threatening its closure with a fine of 50.000 to 110.000 euros for a peaceful protest action held in front of the Ministry on 12th March 2009.

The action consisted of a small group of activists exhibiting empty cans of paint and varnish in the shape of a question mark for 7 hours in front of the Ministry to protest at the Ministry's failure to implement the Waste Act and provide collection points for waste paint. The Ministry, however, in its statement described it as illegal dumping of waste, which carries a fine of 50.000 to 110.000 euros - a sum which would bankrupt the NGO.

Ironically, the action was successful and led to the provision of free waste paint disposal services at the recycling yards in Zagreb.

"The Ministry must drop the court case immediately and concentrate on the real polluters", said Tomislav Tomasevic the President of the Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia. "A fine of 50.000 - 110.000 euros for a peaceful protest action is ridiculous, particularly considering that Croatian oil company INA was fined just 15.000 euros in 2005 for decades of choking air pollution in the city of Sisak, and even then the judge imposing the fine was removed from his position afterwards".

"It is hard to see this court case as anything other than an attempt by the Ministry to silence the biggest and most successful environmental NGO in Croatia," added Jagoda Munic, the Vice-President of the NGO. "It is an embarrassing step backwards for a government which sees itself as leading the country towards EU membership".

Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia also calls on the Prime Minister Ms. Jadranka Kosor to take action against the politically responsible people in the Ministry.

For more information contact:
Tomislav Tomasevic, president of Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia
+385 98 719253, or email tomislav@zelena-akcija.hr