Europe and the UN condemned the management of “yellow vests” demonstrations by the French government

The debate on violence between police forces and “yellow vests” has been a part of the European debate. This Thursday, the MEPs condemned the “disproportionate” use of force by the police in the demonstrations while avoiding calling for the ban on the launchers of defense bullets, implicated in the demonstrations of “yellow vests” “.

In this resolution voted by 438 votes in favor, 78 against and 87 abstentions, the deputies “denounced the use of violent and disproportionate interventions by the public authorities during protests and peaceful demonstrations”. Although the text does not target a particular Member State, it gave rise to a lively debate in the Strasbourg Chamber, in which several French MEPs took part. Asked by a coalition of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the Greens and the European Unity Left, the debate was dominated Monday night partly by the situation in France with the demonstrations of “yellow vests”, even if it is reference to other countries (Romania, Spain, Hungary, Greece).

After the European Parliament on Thursday 14 February, independent experts from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned Friday the management of demonstrations of “yellow vests” by the French government. These experts denounce, in particular, serious restrictions on the right to demonstrate exercised by the French State and an excessive use of force. Asked on franceinfo Saturday, Michel Forst, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders at the UN, said that “this text is a warning measure to say ‘attention, France will probably a little away and should reflect on its policies of public order ‘. ”

The UN for its part pronounced on this subject in a statement published this Thursday and quotes a group of experts of the human rights of the United Nations. They are concerned about the “high number of arrests and detentions, searches and confiscations of demonstrators’ equipment, as well as serious injuries caused by the disproportionate use of so-called ‘non-lethal’ weapons such as grenades and the launchers of defense bullets or “flashballs”, adding that “the authorities should rethink their policing policies to ensure the exercise of freedoms”. The experts also warn about the risk of “severe restrictions on the freedom to demonstrate” that could cause the anti-crash law. The latter allows the prefects to pronounce prohibitions to demonstrate, a point validated by the National Assembly on January 30 last.

Michel Forst points to “a disproportionate use” of so-called non-lethal weapons. “The number of wounded, the quality of the wounds, the fact that many said they lost an eye, a hand, a foot, shows that these type of tools, non-lethal weapons used by the security forces, are probably used disproportionately, “he explained. “We saw pictures that were shown to us by lawyers, where we see, for example, these grenades launched on doctors who treat wounded, on journalists, so we say that there is something to look more carefully, hence the alert we are launching. ”

In addition, the experts expressed their deep concern over a proposed law purporting to prevent violence during demonstrations and to punish the perpetrators. “The proposed administrative ban on demonstrations, the establishment of additional control measures and the imposition of heavy penalties constitute severe restrictions on the freedom to demonstrate, which could be applied arbitrarily and lead to extremely serious abuses. “, emphasize the experts.

“We were struck by the feeling that fundamentally the management of the demonstrations escapes the government but pushes it to take measures which, from our point of view, would be contrary to the public liberties, and to the pact of the United Nations of which France makes part “adds Michel Forst. The panel hopes that their appeal will be heard and that the government will review its copy of law enforcement.

The use of the LBD by the police during the demonstrations of “yellow vests”, also referred to as “Flashball”, is the subject of intense controversy in France.

In early January, the Council of State rejected requests from the CGT and the League of Human Rights (LDH), suspension of their use. The judges considered that the risk of violence made it “necessary to allow the police to resort to these weapons”. But to try to respond to concerns, Christophe Castaner announced on January 22 that the security forces who used them would now be equipped with pedestrian cameras. According to the Minister of the Interior, they must be “systematically” activated “in normal conditions” but not “in case of aggression” of the police.

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