German supreme court strengthens nuclear opponents’ rights

von 30.01.2009

(Translated by Diet Simon)

Germany’s supreme court has handed down a ruling that nuclear opponents welcome as strengthening their rights.

The group that has resisted nuclear waste dumping at the north German village of Gorleben for 31 years says the ruling, confirming the right of residents along the waste transport routes to litigate against the transports, is a clear reprimand of lower courts.

The Lüchow-Dannenberg Civic Initiative for the Environment (BI) sees the ruling “strengthening the cause of the nuclear opponents”.

For years lower administrative courts had refused complainants along the route to Gorleben the right to challenge transport permits issued under nuclear law.

The supreme court now ruled in favour of two complainants who argued that their constitutional rights were breached because they were refused access to lower courts since 2003.

The BI now contends that the judgment proves that “for years a gigantic police apparatus was used to transport nuclear waste to Gorleben on a questionable legal basis”.

"We have always demanded that protection of the population must take priority over protection of purely financial interests of the atomic industry,” commented a BI spokesman.

"Moreover, during the last transport (in November) the radiation minimisation regulation was breached because the casks contained substantially more radioactive material and radiated significantly more.

“That was why police leaders gave out the order beforehand that police should stay at least 6.5 metres away from a critical danger zone.

“But what about the population, houses and plots along the transport route that are knowingly and directly exposed to the high radiation risk?”

The BI spokesman states that breaches of basic rights are regularly and knowingly committed whenever nuclear waste is transported.

“On the agenda of breaches to enforce the transports against the interests of the population are the basic right to life and physical integrity (Art. 2), the right to freedom of assembly (Art. 8), the right to privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunication (Art. 10) and the right to property (Art. 14). And finally, Article 19 assures every citizen: ‘Should any person’s rights be violated by public authority, he may have recourse to the courts.’”

The supreme court said the female plaintiff’s right to effective legal protection was violated because the lower court denied her access to appeal in an unacceptable manner.

The BI is still waiting for a supreme court ruling on assembly bans along the transport routes.

In another development, nuclear opponents are furious that a nuclear dump in an old salt mine that is taking in water is to be fixed at taxpayers’ expense and that the power companies that produced the waste are to be let off the hook. The repairs are to cost billions of euros.

Bearbeitet am: 31.01.2009/ad


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