EDO acting in important case for human rights and environmental protesters

The EDO is acting for Lisa Caripis, who attended a protest at the Hazelwood Power Station in 2010, where she experienced being filmed by the Victoria Police.  The Victoria Police have since retained the footage – although the protest was peaceful, and no arrests were made.

Lisa found the experience of being filmed, and the Police’s subsequent retention of this footage, disturbing and concerning.  Yet at the protest Lisa did nothing wrong – she simply joined others in voicing her concern about Victoria’s continued reliance on greenhouse-gas intensive power stations, and her hope that we can move to forms of energy that are better for our environment.

Lisa has challenged the Victoria Police’s retention of the footage under the Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006.

The case will be heard before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 17 and 18 July 2012.

Why is this case important?

Lisa’s case is important because it will  test what limits Victoria’s privacy laws impose on the practice of retaining footage of people filmed at protests.

The case will also test the degree to which the Charter protects the human rights of environmental protesters, such as the right to privacy, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.

Why is the EDO acting in this case?

This is the third time in recent years that the EDO has assisted people to legally challenge public authorities’ treatment of protester information.  In 2010, the EDO represented protesters who challenged a Victorian Government agreement that authorised the transfer of protesters’ private information to the consortium building the Wonthaggi desalination plan.  In 2011, the EDO helped farmer Jan Beer, who discovered that Melbourne Water had collected a large amount of information about her because of her criticism of the north-south pipeline.

The EDO only provides legal assistance in legal matters that are in the public interest – as Victoria’s only public interest environmental law centre, we only help people who want to get a better outcome for Victoria’s environment.

The EDO firmly believes that it is always in the public interest for people like Lisa to be able to publicly voice their concerns about Victoria’s environment, and to propose their solutions for how we make things better for the future – and to do so without feeling that their privacy has been infringed.

This case will test the degree to which Victoria’s privacy laws, and human rights laws, apply to people like Lisa.

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