Tag Archives: human rights abuses in france

Africa stands in solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in France

For years, France has been making setbacks in the area of human rights. From the yellow vests (2017) to the current protests against the pension law, demonstrators in the country are subjected to sordid police violence. Africa stands in solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in France:

Demonstrations: international alerts to police violence in France

“Law enforcement officials must facilitate them and avoid any excessive use of force”, the United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of association

“I am following the ongoing demonstrations very closely and recall that peaceful demonstrations are a fundamental right that the authorities must guarantee and protect. Law enforcement officials must facilitate them and avoid any excessive use of force”. The sentence refers to the situation in France, as the mobilizations against the pension reform continue in late March.

It was not written by an elected member of the France insoumise, but by the United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of association, Clément Voule.

“Violent incidents have taken place”, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights

From demonstration to demonstration, the response of the French police also worries international human rights institutions and NGOs outside our borders. In the context of the social movement against the pension reform in France, the freedoms of expression and assembly are being exercised in worrying conditions,” said the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, on March 24. It is the responsibility of the authorities to allow the full enjoyment of these freedoms, protecting peaceful demonstrators and journalists covering these protests from police violence and from violent individuals operating within or on the margins of the protests.”

The commissioner also notes, “violent incidents have taken place, some of which have targeted law enforcement.” However, she adds, “the sporadic violence of some demonstrators cannot justify the excessive use of force by state agents.” Dunja Mijatović further recalls, “the first obligation of all member states is to protect people under their jurisdiction and their human rights.”

“The excessive use of force by the police during demonstrations is not new in France”, Human Rights Watch

“The excessive use of force by the police during demonstrations is not new in France,” notes researcher at the NGO Human Rights Watch Eva Cossé. Already in December 2018, this NGO had documented injuries caused by police weapons during the Yellow Vests mobilizations and student protests, “including people whose limbs were burned or mutilated by the alleged use of flash tear gas grenades.”

“We had also identified cases of people injured by rubber bullets, as well as disproportionate use of tear gas and disencryption grenades,” adds the head of the NGO.

“States are obliged to refrain from the arbitrary use of force in the context of law enforcement operations”, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Given the situation in France, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) also insisted on recalling that States “are obliged to refrain from the arbitrary use of force in the context of law enforcement operations. They may only do so as a last resort. Even then, it must be done in a proportionate manner, with the objective of maintaining public order and security.”

Alice Mogwe, President of the FIDH appealed to French leaders, “The French government, which all too rarely loses an opportunity to give lessons in democracy and respect for rights to the rest of the world, should think about being irreproachable on this point, as on that of police violence, which is perfectly scandalous.”

France, a country of backwardness of human rights?

In the context of the “yellow vests” protests, (2018/2019), Amnesty International had recorded several potential abuses by the new legislations in France, making the exercise of rights and freedoms dangerous.

In particular, Amnesty International had described the law on the attestation as “speculative”. “Under French law, any public gathering likely to disturb public order is punishable: this is the offence of assembly (Article 431-1 Penal Code). The authorities can therefore prosecute demonstrators if they have the impression that they intend to disturb public order. The mere risk is therefore penalized,” the NGO wrote.

“Thus, demonstrations have been considered as assemblies and ordered to disperse simply because they were not declared. Participants have been prosecuted for assembling peacefully and, in some cases, not even hearing the summons. Under international law, failure to notify the authorities of a demonstration does not make a gathering illegal. And it is accepted that the authorities must tolerate a certain amount of disorder to allow the exercise of freedom of expression (the obstruction of traffic, for example).

In 2019, forty-two people were convicted of organizing an undeclared demonstration, seven times more than the previous year (only six people were convicted), and 244 people were convicted of assembling. In 2016, at the time of the mobilizations against the labor law, only fifty-four people had been convicted for this offense.”

Africa stands in solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in France

Africa stands in solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in France. “Even though we witness abuses of rights and freedoms in France, especially against peaceful demonstrators, these facts are very little documented. Worse, the press ignores them. If this had happened in Africa, the media would have made the front pages,” said Mahmadou Keita, a human rights defender from Mali, contacted by FLA.

Aminata Maiga, of the Burkinabe NGO Rights Now, adds: “The French like to boast that they are in the land of human rights. Today they are victims of serious violations of these rights, and this since 2017 with the yellow vests. We stand in solidarity with the French people!”

For his part, Jeff Osayande, from the Department of Justice in Nigeria, he believes, after the “duty of solidarity with the victims of abuses in France”, that “this country is in decline on subject”. “The images are shocking. We see a violent police repression. It is worthy of the worst dictatorship!” he adds.

Africa stands in solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in France

Several human rights defenders and NGOs in Africa have expressed their solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses in France.