These six young Portuguese men, witnessing devastating forest fires and increasingly severe heatwaves, highlight the non-compliance by many European States of their positive obligations under the right to life (Article 2), and the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights. . It also raises the question from the perspective of prohibition of ill-treatment (Article 3).
Their case will be heard before 22 judges. For the lawyers defending the case, this is excellent news, a landmark trial they describe as “David versus Goliath.”
Climate crisis, human rights crisis
The applicants see this as a logical continuation of their climate fight. ” With us we are stronger “, as they say. Andre dos Santos Oliveira is 15 years old, and this asthmatic Portuguese wants to believe it. ” We are raising this matter to the European governments because they are not protecting us. He explains on the microphoneAlice Frossard From the RFI. Here in Portugal, we are on the front line of the climate emergency in Europe, as in many parts of the world. This summer we have seen heat waves that continue to get worse. Sometimes these heat waves prevent us from doing normal tasks, like leaving the house. These climate crises are getting worse. Our physical health is not the only thing that is affected: all of this obviously affects our mental health. Because we are worried about our future. How can you not worry? I think fear is a completely normal reaction to what we see and to the failure of our governments. It is possible to ensure that this crisis does not spiral completely out of control… and we still have reason for hope. But time is running out “.
Portugal is one of the European countries most affected by forest fires. The bloodiest was what happened in 2017, in the center of the country. The fire, fanned by violent winds, burned through some 24,000 hectares of pine and eucalyptus hills for five days, killing 63 people, most of whom were trapped in their cars as they tried to escape.