The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic Friday accused the French police of using violence and excessive force against protestors demonstrating opposition against French President Emmanual Macron’s circumventing an outvoted pension reform bill increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64, without a parliamentary vote.
The Council of Europe is Europe’s leading human rights watchdog organization and has called the French police’s response to protestors “worrying.” Mijatovic stated that “The violence must stop. This is a necessary condition for the effective exercise of the freedoms of expression and assembly, as well as for trust between the population and the police.”
French authorities, in their attempts to control violent protestors have received scrutiny from activist groups, such as Amnesty International and LDH France, as well independent bodies for their harsh tactics. This has generated alarm toward the French Government’s regard for democracy and human rights, with LDH France stating:
After the announcement of the forced passage of its reform, the [French Government] undermines citizens’ right to protest by making a disproportionate and dangerous use of public force. The #LDH is concerned about this anti-democratic turn.
French Republic Defender of Rights, Clarie Hédon, Tuesday released recommendations to ensure authoritative regimes and enforcement measures by security forces are being ethically applied. Hédon within her recommendations further “warns of the consequences of preventive arrests of people near the demonstrations. It stresses that this practice may lead to a risk of resorting to measures involving deprivation of liberty in a disproportionate manner and of fostering tension. Individual freedom may only be limited within the framework and under the conditions established by law.”
As the situation in France continues, Hédon will endeavour to closely monitor the actions of security forces, and has encouraged both victims and witnesses to report breaches of law enforcement by state agents.