THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered the government to compensate owners of cannabis-selling cafes who say they lost money because of measures aimed at stamping out drug tourism.
The court said that turning coffee shops in the southern Netherlands into private member-only clubs last year deterred not only foreigners but also Dutch customers, and ordered compensation for the cafe owners. The amount will be settled later.
The decision was the latest skirmish in a long-running legal battle between the government that wants officially tolerated coffee shops to sell cannabis only to locals, and owners of the cafes who insist they should be allowed to sell to anybody.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police turn a blind eye to possession of small amounts and it is sold openly in coffee shops. Large-scale growers are prosecuted.
Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Union of Cannabis Retailers, said the group was disappointed by the parts of the ruling that upheld anti-drug-tourism measures, and would appeal.
In a written reaction, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice called the judgment “a powerful underpinning of the present policy” and said it saw grounds to appeal the ruling that said turning coffee shops into private clubs was too harsh and unnecessary.
Under a government policy change that came into force May 1 last year in southern provinces close to the Dutch borders with Germany and Belgium, only holders of a “weed pass” are allowed to buy cannabis. The measure took aim at problems caused by thousands of foreigners who pour across the borders each year to buy drugs.
The government scrapped the pass in November, but continued its policy of allowing coffee shops to sell drugs only to Dutch residents.
However, it said local authorities would be responsible for enforcing the measure. Amsterdam, whose scores of coffee shops are a major tourist draw, immediately said it would continue to allow tourists to buy weed in the cafes.
By Mike Corder, The Associated Press
St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world are facing an uncertain future following today’s announcement by the Irish Government that it has sold the popular saint, and his associated festival day, to Germany in a desperate bid to reduce Ireland’s crippling national debt.
Saint Patrick, who has been Ireland’s national saint for over 1500 years and who is believed to be the only Irish cleric in history not to have been implicated in a child sex abuse scandal, was sold at an EU auction last night for the sum of €7.3 million, according to Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
‘I understand that people might be upset about this, but Saint Patrick has not exactly done a lot of good for us over the years,’ said the Taoiseach. ‘Okay, so he got rid of the snakes for us, but quite frankly if it was a choice between no snakes or saving the country from being repeatedly invaded and ravaged, having half the population die in a famine and then the nation being left virtually bankrupt from a global financial crisis, then I, for one, would happily be arse-deep in anacondas right now.’
Early reports suggest that Saint Patrick will be relaunched as a new German folk character, ‘Der Leprakaun Fuhrer’, a vagabond who once ruled a faraway land which based its entire economy around transactions of magic beans which subsequently disappeared and left the country in economic ruin.
German minister, Franz Hagen, has told those who have planned St Patrick’s Day events not to worry. ‘St Patrick’s Day, or Heinzellmannchanfest as it will be called from now on, will be going ahead almost as normal this year, except that it will now be used to teach the world about the importance of efficiency and economic responsibility. As such, there will be no alcohol allowed,’ he added.
Following the success of the sale, the Irish Government is considering selling more of its national assets to further reduce its debt woes. The Netherlands have already expressed an interest in purchasing some of the Donegal mountains in an effort to make their country less flat and prone to flooding, while North Korea is said to be interested in buying County Leitrim to prove to its citizens that there are actually worse places on Earth to live. However, the Irish Government is still struggling to find a potential buyer for Bono after the U2 singer failed to reach his reserve price of nearly €5 at last night’s auction.
Bolivian farmer in her quinoa field – (Bioversity International)
CHALLAPATA – Standing beneath the Bolivian sun, it takes just one long look at the quinoa fields stretching as far as the eye can see, to understand why the Andean people call quinoa the golden grain.
“We also call it chisiya mama, which means ‘mother of all grains’ in the Aymara language,” smiles Valentina Rodriguez, a farmer from the Cotimbora community, in southern Bolivia.
Known for centuries for resisting difficult climate conditions, quinoa has always been grown in this region, near the Uyuni Salt Flatsin, in a stretch of highlands situated more than 3,700 meters above sea-level.
“My grandparents grew it,” remembers Valentina. For a long time, the golden grain was only found in the Andes. Today it can be found in organic meals around the world. Rich in protein, amino acids, mineral nutrients, vitamins and gluten free, this “pseudo cereal,” as it is called because it bears resemblance to grass, is actually part of the same family as spinach, chenopodium.
Popular in the U.S., Northern Europe and Australia, quinoa and its nutritious benefits go far beyond a simple organic trend. The U.N. recently launched the International Year of the Quinoa, saying the plant could help boost food security globally as well as fight malnutrition. This is one more reason why the so-called “super grain” has become so popular since the end of the 1980s – a trend that is benefitting Bolivia, its number one exporter.
Bolivia exported more than 26,000 tons of quinoa in 2012, providing 46% of quinoa consumed in the world. “Around 52% of the production goes to the U.S., 12.5% to France,” says Lucio Tito, director of the Bolivian Institute for Agriculture and Forest Innovation (INIAF), who is expecting record revenues of about 80 million dollars in 2013.
These record numbers are linked to soaring quinoa prices. In January, the royal quinoa reached $3,200 per ton on the international market, tripling in price in six years. “Our ancestors would not believe their eyes,” says Ciprian Mayorga, a producer from Salinas de Garci Mendoza, near Uyuni, who recalls the 1970s when 50 kilograms of quinoa would sell for 40 pesos — against more than 800 pesos today. “Since 2005, quinoa revenues have allowed us to build a small house in the town and send our children to school. This was impossible before,” says the 67-year-old farmer, who adds, “The rise in price has changed everything in the countryside.”
Everyone wants a slice of quinoa pie
Thousands of Bolivians have returned to their hometowns in the country to participate in the quinoa boom. Around Challapata, there is quinoa everywhere. “Before, the land was reserved for livestock, but today, it’s all quinoa,” says Antonia Choqueticlla, a seamstress who has been growing quinoa plants since she was six years old. “Before, it wasn’t worth producing but now the whole family has started growing it,” says Juvenal Romero, an inhabitant of Challapata who up until 2008 worked in a foundry, four hours away. “In six years, quinoa fields have doubled in Bolivia, exceeding 104,000 hectares in 2012,” says Lucio Tito.
The intensification of crops, with the use of tractors, has worried researchers and authorities: “Farmers went from small, hand-planted plots on hillsides, to fully mechanized crops in the plains,” explains Thierry Winkel, an agro-ecologist from the French Institute of Research and Development (IRD), who led a study on the emergence of quinoa in the global economy. After four years of study, the IRD did not find any traces of soil depletion due to quinoa. “Yields are low, but this is mainly due to the climate and bad seeds,” says Winkel.
The National Association of Quinoa Producers (Anapqui) gives recommendations to its 2,000 members. For instance it advises producers to regularly rotate their land and to have a minimum of cattle per cultivated hectare. According to farmers, soil on the highlands that receive good manure can produce up to 30 quintals (3,000 kg) per hectare, against 10 (1,000 kg) otherwise.
“We remain vigilant in order to prevent the quinoa production from affecting our soils and our environment,” says Lucio Tito. According to him, Bolivia will limit the use of chemical products and excessive use of tractors in large properties. The INIAF is also aware that quinoa crops will continue to grow at the expense of other crops, which is something to keep an eye on. “In addition to the price increase, quinoa has the particularity of resisting climate change, a problem that is currently affecting potato crops,” explains Tito, who adds that quinoa can endure temperatures from -4 °C to 38 °C.
Quinoa is “highly adaptable” to different terrains, says the U.N. It is cultivated today in the U.S., Canada, England, The Netherlands, and since 2006, in the Loire Valley in France, far away from the Andean highlands.
Does this competition worry Bolivian producers? “All these varieties will never be able to rival our royal quinoa, that only grows around the Uyuni Salt Flats,” says the president of the Anapqui association.
Read the article in the original language.
Photo by – Bioversity International
All rights reserved ©Worldcrunch – in partnership with LE MONDE
Catholic Church offers apology to victims after report published
The report, published yesterday, brought an immediate apology from the Catholic Church, which said that not only had the victims been blameless, but they had been entitled to live and study safely in the homes and schools where much of the abuse took place.
In a statement last night, the church said the victims were entitled to apologies from the bishops and superiors of the religious orders who had failed to protect them. It also said there should be a period of “recognition and healing” in tandem with financial compensation.
The 1,100-page first report of the Deetman commission – chaired by former Dutch education minister Wim Deetman – shocked the Netherlands last year when it revealed that 800 Catholic priests and monks abused as many as 20,000 children in their care between 1945 and 1985.
It said the abuse took place in boarding schools, children’s homes and orphanages, but was not openly acknowledged by the church authorities because of their “culture of silence” and determination “not to hang out their dirty washing”.
What surprised the Deetman investigators was the scale of the abuse of women and girls. In just one home for children with mental disabilities, 40 girls under the age of 12, many just babies and toddlers, died over a three-year-period in the 1950s. As a result it was decided to make this the focus of a second report.
Yesterday’s report examines in detail a sample 150 cases of sexual abuse and physical or psychological violence. Three cases are so serious they are to be referred to the public prosecutor – even though technically they are outside the statute of limitations. The report said 40 per cent of the 150 cases involved “severe sexual abuse”, and the perpetrators had almost always been priests, brothers and other male clerics.
The Real Culprits are the Banks
The Great Horsemeat Crisis
by CONN HALLINAN
As the Great Horsemeat Crisis continues to spread—“gallops” is the verb favored by the European press—across the continent, and countries pile on to blame Romania (France, Holland, Cyprus, etc.), what is becoming increasingly clear is that old-fashioned corporate greed, aided and abetted by politicians eager to gut “costly” regulations and industrial inspection regimes is behind the scandal.
In a sense it is fitting that the whole imbroglio began in Ireland, where inspectors in Ulster first indentified that hamburgers should have more properly been labeled “horsewiches.” The Emerald Isle has more horses than any country in Europe, and, according to the Financial Times, in 2007 Ireland produced 12,633 thoroughbred foals and has some 110,000 “sport” horses.
The year 2007 was just before the Irish real estate bubble imploded, bankrupting the nation and impoverishing millions. And the year the “Celtic Tiger” died was very bad news for horses. Thousands of the creatures were simply turned loose by their financially strapped owners, and the number of horses sent to slaughterhouses jumped from 2,000 in 2008 to 25,000 in 2012.
The Irish-horse connection goes back to when Celtic speaking people first burst out of Central Europe during the second century B.C. Celtic cavalry and chariots—the Celts introduced the latter to Europe—were pretty formidable, as the Romans discovered on a number of occasions.
Horses have always been a high status item in Ireland, and during the colonial period the English figured out a devilishly clever way to take advantage of that. According to the Irish Penal Laws of 1692, no Catholic—the vast majority of native Irish were Roman Catholics—could own a horse worth more than five pounds. So the English would go into the countryside, select a thoroughbred, and force the breeder to sell them his horse for a pittance. Sometimes the “buyers” would then turn right around and re-sell the animal to its former owner for hundreds of pounds.
When the Irish first discovered horsemeat in the food chain, they claimed innocence and blamed the Poles. It turns out, however, that a small slaughterhouse in Tipperary was shipping horsemeat labeled as beef to the Czech Republic. The British blamed the Romanians, and Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, The Sun, took the opportunity to indulge in his favorite sport: ethnic bashing. A “grim Romanian slaughterhouse built with EU (European Union) cash” was the culprit, blared the largest (and sleaziest) tabloid in England.
The Romanians did indeed use EU cash to build a plant, but the slaughterhouse produced records showing that they had correctly identified the meat as horse. Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta complained that Romania was routinely made the EU’s scapegoat.
Then the Swedes got into the act and blamed France, and it does appear it was the French company Spanghero that slipped “old Dobbin” into the food chain. Spanghero denied the charge and, in its defense, trotted out yet another animal: a weeping crocodile. “My first thought is for the employees,” said a choked up Laurent Spanghero at a press conference. “My second thought goes to our kids and grandkids that carry our name. We have always taught them the values of courage and loyalty and today we have been plunged into dishonor.”
Except, according to French Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon, Spanghero could hardly have failed to notice that the meat it was importing from Romania was much cheaper than what the company normally paid for beef. A kilo of horsemeat costs .66 cents, a kilo of beef, $3.95. According to Hamon, Spanghero made $733,800 substituting horsemeat for beef.
Then things got really murky.
The Netherlands said the Cyprus-based meat vendor Draap that sold the meat to Spanghold was responsible, and the company’s track record would suggest the Dutch had a point. In 2012 Draap was convicted of selling South American horsemeat labeled at German and Dutch beef.
But it turns out Draap—based in Cyprus but run by a trust in the British Virgin Islands—is owned by the company Guardstand, that in turn owns part of the arms dealing company, Ilex Ventures. According to prosecutors in New York, convicted international arms dealer Viktor Bout owns Ilex Ventures. Guardstand’s sole shareholder, reports Jamie Doward of The Observer, is Trident Trust, which sets up companies in tax-free nations. Guardstand helped set up Ilex.
Sorting this out will be nigh on impossible, because tax havens like Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands are not about to give up their secrets, and the powerful corporations that shelter their ill-gotten gains there know how to keep inspectors at bay.
Hypocrisy has been in abundance during the Great Horsemeat Crisis.
Owen Paterson, the British environmental secretary who oversees food safety and a member of the Conservative Party, thundered in Parliament about an “international conspiracy.” However, the current Conservative-Liberal government has instituted cutbacks on inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and turned enforcement over to some 330 local authorities.
“It is a shame that testing by the FSA has been reduced,” Dr. Chris Smart told the Guardian. “I am sure there will be other crises that come along in the next few years.” And given that UK food prices have risen nearly 26 percent that will surely be the case. Inspectors have already uncovered adulterated olive oil and paprika made from roof tiles.
At the heart of this are the continent-wide austerity programs that have driven up the ranks of the poor, requiring low-income families to rely on cheap meat or go without. “Why was horsemeat present in beef burgers?” asks Elizabeth Dowler, a professor of food and social policy at Warwick University, “Because the price has to be kept as low as possible.” Horsemeat is one-fifth the price of beef, so the temptation is to either adulterate beef with horse, or sell it as cheap beef. “This has the most impact on those with low income and large numbers of children,” says Dowler. “People in this situation have no money to buy better quality burgers, or to go to a butcher and make their own mincemeat. Instead they depend on special 3-for-2 offers. The problem is linked to poverty.”
Horsemeat for some, beer and skittles for the likes of Spanghero.
But the real culprits in this crisis are the banks in Britain, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain that ignited the economic crisis by artificially pumping up real estate bubbles. Up there in the docket with the bankers should be the politicians who shoved through development schemes, waved environmental regulations, and turned a blind eye to speculation. And when everything crashed, the taxpayers—the vast majority of whom never got in on the boom years—got stuck with the bill.
Poor Ireland. The EU enforced austerity scheme has raised the unemployment level to above 15 percent—30 percent for young people—and saddled homeowners with onerous tax and fee hikes. Wages have been cut, health care fees raised more, and welfare butchered. In spite of these “reforms,” the economy grew an anemic 0.9 percent in 2012, and is scheduled to rise to 1.5 percent in 2013, down from the 2.2 the government originally predicted.
And the Irish economy is actually much worse than the figures indicate, because much of the wealth Ireland currently creates goes into the coffers of huge multinationals attracted to the island’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate, the lowest in Europe. As the Economist points out, “The Irish people have fared much worse than the Irish economy.”
And the pain for the average Irish working person is due to get worse. The 2013 budget will cut spending $4.6 billion, increase taxes, and add yet more austerity in 2014 and 2015. All of this woe has drawn widespread praise from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, which suggests that if a bank praises you, it is time to reach for a barricade.
This is not just a European problem, because the trend toward cutting back on regulations and inspections is worldwide. For instance, under pressure from the agricultural lobby, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has backed off trying to reduce the amount of antibiotics used on livestock. According to a recent report by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, 80 percent of all the antibiotics manufactured in the U.S. are used on animals. The result is that antibiotic-resistant salmonella is spreading rapidly in chicken and turkey populations, and turning up in hospitals, clinics and gymnasiums.
Horsemeat is going to be the least of our problems.
A ban on anyone except Dutch nationals smoking cannabis in cafe’s across the country has effectively erased the last remaining reason to visit the Netherlands.
The waning popularity of clogs, tulips, windmills and omelettes coupled with the fact that most of Rembrandt’s work seems to be hanging in British Galleries means that is effectively the end of the road for Dutch tourism.
If you take away the weed then Amsterdam is much like any other city except that you’ve got more chance of being run over by a tram than most and the beer (which is mostly foam) is served in contact lenses instead of pint glasses.
Some of the cannabis retailers are expecting a 90% drop in sales which can lead to two possible outcomes; either they become drug dealers or they burn the entire crop and instantly convert the Low Countries into the world’s largest bong.
The resulting ‘Hooch Fog’ would be so massive that aircraft would literally fall out of the sky because their baked pilots would be too busy raiding the kitchen to worry about landing.
This action by the Dutch government does seem a little perplexing in the light of the fact that there is a recession and everyone is scrabbling about for every dam penny they can get.
Posters advertising ‘Tulip and Clog’ stag parties are not expected to have much effect on the situation.
Dutch authorities have decided to approve a motion abandoning a law under which it is a crime to insult God.
A majority of parties in parliament said the blasphemy law was no longer relevant in the 21st Century.
The legislation, introduced in the 1930s, has not been invoked in the last half century.
Freedom of speech is a much-cherished right in the liberal and traditionally tolerant
The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says that there was much debate about the issue after a Dutch court ruled that the far-right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders should be allowed to criticise Islam, even if his outspoken opinions offended many Muslims.
In 2008, a coalition government decided against repealing the blasphemy law in order to maintain support from an orthodox Christian political party.
VOTERS IN THE states of Washington and Colorado recently voted to legalise cannabis for recreational use for people who are over 21-years-old. Along with these two states, another fifteen as well as the District of Columbia approve and regulate its medical use.
In the aftermath of the Washington and Colorado ballot,The Journal.ie ran a poll. Eighty-two percent said they were in favour of cannabis legalisation in Ireland for either recreational or medicinal use. This of course is in no way scientific – but is it now time for our government to take a closer look at our cannabis prohibition laws, and ask whether they are benefiting our society or causing more harm than good?
We need to ask: does cannabis prohibition work? The simple answer is no. We only have to look back in history to the era of Prohibition in the 1920s to understand why. Al Capone and his violent mob made millions of dollars from the illegal sale of alcohol. Today we are witnessing a similar trend in Ireland, with ruthless criminal gangs making a fortune (tax-free of course) from the sale of cannabis. Sadly, the monies raised often go on to fuel much more serious crimes such as gun crime, hard drugs and prostitution.
Legalising cannabis would automatically cut off this valuable revenue stream. Instead we could generate an unthinkable amount of tax revenue, which could be spent on much needed public services such as health, education and drug rehabilitation.
Cannabis prohibition also leaves market regulation in the hands of criminals – and unfortunately the health and wellbeing of the end user is the least of their concerns. It’s a serious issue that in Ireland today a 14-year-old can obtain cannabis more easily than they can alcohol. If cannabis was legalised the market could be regulated properly with an age restriction of 18 or 21 applied to it, making it safer than it currently is today.
Prohibition causes a major drain on our criminal justice system: how much valuable time and money is spent on chasing down and convicting cannabis growers and distributors in this country? If cannabis was legalised it would free up time and money which could then be used to target more serious crimes.
We also need to factor in the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The first recorded medicinal use of cannabis by Chinese emperor Shen Nung dates back as far as 2737 BC. In more modern times, it’s been put forward as a treatment or symptom reliever for a huge range of medical conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma, epilepsy, digestive diseases, depression and many more. It’s hard to believe that we have a plant which has so many apparent benefits, yet we deny those who are suffering from these illnesses the opportunity of relief.
In my mind, prohibiting this substance whilst allowing people to suffer is the biggest crime of all. Now, let’s take a look at the reasons people give for why they oppose cannabis legalisation and the misconceptions people have about the prohibition laws they favour.
People say it’s harmful to your health. This seems to be the number one reason given for opposing legalisation. Yet if cannabis is already freely available and commonly used within our society, shouldn’t we be striving to limit its harmful effects?
As already mentioned above, a regulated market place is much safer than one controlled by the criminal underworld. Curbing underage use should be seen as a top priority, as studies have shown a link between persistent adolescent cannabis use and mental health problems in later life – yet they’ve found that people who didn’t take up cannabis until they were adults did not show similar negative effects as those who began at an earlier age.
Secondly, people say that legalising it will cause a huge uptake in the number of people who choose to smoke it. This isn’t necessarily true. A friend of mine recently said to me “cannabis just wouldn’t be as much fun if it was legalised” and there’s some truth in that. Experts will tell you that more teenagers try cannabis because of the glamour of the ‘forbidden fruit’ than are deterred by any other factor. Cannabis use is actually more prevalent in Ireland than it is in either Portugal or the Netherlands, two European countries who have decriminalised its use. In fact, contrary to common belief the Dutch are among the lowest users of cannabis in Europe; despite the Netherlands’ well known tolerance of the drug.
Others state that it is a gateway drug that will lead users onto harder drugs. But there’s nothing in cannabis that makes the user want to try harder drugs. The fact that it’s illegal and often sourced from dealers who also sell other drugs could be seen as a problem, but again if it was legalised we wouldn’t have this problem.
With so many benefits to be gained by legalising cannabis and so many obvious disadvantages to prohibition, why are our government choosing to ignore this issue? It’s time to ask questions and demand answers.
Just for information royaldutchshellplc.com is a site that is highly critical of Shell and its associates.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a Shell website nor is it officially endorsed by or affiliated with Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
From: John Donovan <email@example.com>
Subject: Constant attacks on the website royaldutchshellplc.com
Date: 11 November 2012 15:29:54 GMT
Dear Mr Brandjes
I would like to bring another serious matter to your attention.
I refer to the constant attacks on our website royaldutchshellplc.com.
There are three strands to the activity.
The first is denial of service attacks where the site is flooded with traffic. We have upgraded our server a number of times in an effort to deal with these attacks, but the scale is such that even our latest high capacity dedicated server has crashed due to massive spikes in traffic, which cannot be due to normal activity.
BLOCKING SHELL BLOG ENTRIES
For over a year we have received attacks on the site in the form of massive numbers of blog entries being received. They have recently reached a level whereby legitimate blogs are crowded out, effectively blocking criticism against Shell. Blog postings arrive every few minutes 24/7 for several days. Then cease for a few days. The time interval between the blogs, during the periods when they are being received, is random. Multiple languages are used including Dutch, Greek, French and mainly English. Different IPS addresses are used for each blog. Different content, mostly nothing to do with Shell or related matters. The amount of text changes on every blog. Sometime just a few lines and sometimes a long screed. Different aliases are used on each posting. One posting contained a threat to hack the site. Despite the machinations, we have evidence that all of the blog activity comes from one source, with clues that the source is located in the Netherlands.
THREATS RELATING TO SAKHALIN ENERGY
We also receive forwarded emails almost every day, sometimes several times per day, from a source relating to Sakhalin Energy. The emails contain multiple languages. In more recent months, this party has also copied the emails to Mr Voser and to senior people at Gasprom, Sakhalin Energy and the UK police. The emails have contained implied threats against us personally arising from our intervention in the Sakhalin2 project. This party also seems to be located in the Netherlands.
We had initially wondered if some or all of the activity was due to mis-identification i.e someone thought they were attacking a Shell website. However, given the amount of time the attacks have gone on and the fact that we personally have been targeted, it seems that possibility can be ruled out.
We do not know if the multi-pronged attacks are co-incidental or coordinated.
Given the 24/7 nature of the blogging activity, it appears that someone has very deep pockets. Someone who does not like us very much.
I would be grateful if you could check whether an operation directed against us by Shell may have got out of hand?
As you know, Shell has used undercover activities against us in the past and more recently, set up a counter-measures team as well as initiating a global spying operation against us involving a Pittsburgh based agency with specialist expertise in cyber-crimes/warfare.
Is any of this activity still in progress?
I have recently brought these matters to the attention of a specialist UK police cyber-crimes unit as I understand that the activity I have described is unlawful.
ANY RESPONSE FROM SHELL WILL BE PUBLISHED HERE UNEDITED
The Amsterdam District Court said the company should expect public protest about controversial business practices.
But it also gave Greenpeace a list of guidelines to ensure protests were “proportionate”.
Shell had sought a fine of 1.1m euros ($1.2m) for a breach of the ban.
But the Amsterdam court ruling said: “The judge took as a starting point that organisations such as Greenpeace are, in principle, free to carry out actions to let the public know about their point of view.”
“Future Greenpeace actions against Shell cannot be banned in advance provided that they remain in a certain framework,” the ruling added.
The framework included, for example, a time limit for protesters to occupy petrol stations.
The environmental campaigning group has organised several protests against Shell’s exploratory drilling in the Arctic.
In a recent protest on 14 September the group used bicycle locks to shut down pumps at more than 60 filling stations across the Netherlands.
“The mere fact that such an action causes nuisance or loss for the business targeted by the action – in this case Shell – does not makes such an action illegal,” the court said.
Greenpeace, which fears the company’s search for oil in the Arctic will devastate the environment, welcomed the verdict.
“The judge rejected the majority of this injunction and has reminded the company that civil disobedience is a right in democracies, even when its business is impacted,” Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
Shell too said it was satisfied with the verdict.
“We are pleased that Greenpeace actions such as those of September 14 are now bound by strict conditions,” company spokesman Lukas Burgering said.
Lawyers for both parties will plea at a key hearing in The Hague on 11 October at 9:30am.  The verdict is expected early in 2013.
“This court case will have groundbreaking legal repercussions for multinational corporations globally, and especially for European corporations,” says Geert Ritsema, globalisation campaign leader at Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie.
“Due to the poor maintenance of pipelines and factories, Shell let tens of millions of barrels of oil leak in the Niger Delta, with disastrous consequences for local people and the environment. The Anglo Dutch oil giant must now stop its pollution, compensate the damage and prevent more oil spills from happening,” he adds.
Geert Ritsema and Hans Berkhuizen, the director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, will conduct a fact-finding mission in Nigeria from September 27 – October 2.
“Nigerians have to sue Shell in The Netherlands to obtain justice. Meanwhile Shell uses the threat of legal action to attempt to silence legitimate protests, for instance the recent Greenpeace protests against Shell in Europe. They pollute with impunity, destroy livelihoods and block dissent. This is deplorable,” says Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Chair of Friends of the Earth International.