In 2011 a mock Ecocide trial was held in the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Two fictional Chief Executive Officers were put on trial for causing Ecocide due to their destructive practices in the Athabasca tar sands and the Gulf Oil Spill. The evidence was all based on true events and publicly available documents. The trial was not scripted; the jury was real and the legal teams included some of the key figures in the UK legal field (Michael Mansfield QC prosecuting, Chris Parker QC defending). The trial demonstrated that a law of Ecocide is triable. What was demonstrated was that a law of Ecocide can work in practice, and it garnered international media coverage including The Financial Times, Le Monde, Time magazine, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, and Canada’s CBC. The trial was broadcast live worldwide online by Sky News. You can watch highlights of the day below or watch the full trial here.
See also: The Guardian, Ecocide Trial video
Al Jazeera’s report on the trial: Big thinker Polly Higgins
It’s official, jury unanimous: the Athabasca Tar Sands found to be a crime of Ecocide.
On the 30th of September 2011, in the UK Supreme Court, it took just 50 minutes for the jury to return with two unanimous guilty convictions of Ecocide against the CEO’s of the oil companies operating in the Athabasca Tar Sands. They returned a not guilty verdict for the charge of Ecocide of the Oil Spill.
It was a tense moment waiting for the jury to return with their verdicts; this was not a guaranteed outcome. The court was packed, as was the hall outside where it was being live streamed online by SKY News. People around the world were watching online and following updates on twitter – 120,000 tweets for #ecocidetrial were recorded by lunchtime.
It was a remarkable feat to bring into the courtroom for just one day some of the issues that would arise in court for a trial of Ecocide.
See images from the day here, read what some of the papers had to say here: the Independent, Deutsche Welle, The Guardian, Financial Times, CNBC. Le Monde and Brazil’s Mercado spread the message and triggered much tweeting elsewhere; the Netherlands Radio covered it and write-ups include Indymedia, Wild Law UK and Climate Rush.
Here are some responses from some of the supporters of the Ecocide trial: