Amnesty International accused the French state of using the pandemic as an excuse to repress the protests in a much harsher way and gave as an example, the ban on meetings of more than ten people, even if those groups were already allowed in concerts or on public transport.
The organization has identified cases in which up to 85 people have been fined for participating in small protests between May and June last, despite the fact that the protesters respected the rules of protection against the coronavirus, according to a report presented today.
Contradictions in the laws
In April 2019, the French Parliament passed a law that criminalized, among other behaviors, face covering during demonstrations. According to AI, this prohibition is contradictory to the obligation to wear a mask.
An example was the demonstration of health workers with masks on June 16 in Paris, to ask for more funding for public health against the pandemic, many of whose assistants were arrested or fined for covering their faces during a protest.
“He French government represses nowadays to the protester through force and through the law, “said the president of Amnesty International France, Cecile Coudrion, who described this 2019 law as” arbitrary “because in most cases it is not demonstrable that these people have committed violent acts.
The “yellow vests & rdquor;
The document shows that between 2018 and 2019, 11,000 protesters from the “yellow vests” they were taken into police custody and more than 40,000 people were found guilty, according to AI, under vague laws that did not meet the criteria established by international or human rights law.
The organization specified that these arrests took place in peaceful demonstrations, separating them from the episodes of violence that led to numerous acts of the “yellow vests”, the social protest movement that spread throughout France since the end of 2018.
Testimonies of abuse
At the presentation of the report, journalist Brice Ivanovic gave his testimony: “I was recording a demonstration of the ‘yellow vests’ when they arrested and detained me for 24 hours for preparing and exercising violence, and for covering my face. The prosecution requested three months in jail without providing evidence “.
Another case is that of Frédéric Vuillaume, sanctioned for having participated in acts of the “yellow vests”: “I was attributed the organization of violent acts. They entered my house and took my mobile and my computer and today I have not been called to trial. “
Therefore, the document recommends a series of actions and “requests” to the Government to stop “prosecute the demonstrations”. Coudrion recalled that in 2019 there were three times more detainees among peaceful protesters than in 2018 due to the new law in force.