EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: MEPs condemn police brutality against peaceful protesters

(GUE/NGL) The European Parliament has condemned the excessive force and violence* used by police forces on peaceful protesters across Europe in recent times which have left several dead, thousands injured with many with life-changing injuries.

The vote came after MEPs from GUE/NGL demanded action after unrests in Romania, Spain, Hungary, Greece as well as the months-long ‘gilets jaunes’ protests across France.

However, GUE/NGL demands on banning the use of less-lethal weapons by police forces failed as the majority of political groups voted against.

The situation has been particularly serious in France where police forces have repeatedly deployed sub-lethal weapons against the ‘gilets jaunes’, resulting in more than 2000 injured, 1 death, 20 people blinded in one eye and 5 people losing a hand. 

Amongst the life-threatening weapons used by the security forces include LBD 40, GLI F4 grenades and sting-ball grenades.

Commenting on the vote, Marie-Christine Vergiat MEP said:

“I welcome the fact that the European Parliament has voted to condemn the use of violent and disproportionate interventions by the public authorities during peaceful protests and demonstrations. First and foremost, this is a condemnation of France but as we have seen – as was the case with Catalonia during the referendum – police brutality occurs elsewhere, too.”

“I am pleased that the Parliament chooses to uphold our fundamental rights after more than 2000 have been injured, 1 dead, 20 blinded in one eye and 5 people having their hands ripped off since the start of the ‘gilets jaunes’ in November.”

“The resolution rightly recalls the main principles that must prevail in the realms of our fundamental rights – and that includes the right to protest. Meanwhile, maintaining order must also fall within this framework which includes proportionality,” she added.

“I am surprised, however, that the liberal ALDE group – who are usually so sensitive to the protection of rights – have been so quiet on this subject. More shocking though is that the majority of the S&D voted against our amendments.”

“However, this resolution does not go far enough. We must now prohibit the use of the so-called ‘less-lethal / intermediate’ life-threatening weapons like LBD 40, GLI F4 grenades and sting-ball grenades,” she concluded.

Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli also commented:

“I welcome that the European Parliament endorsed, by majority, our group’s proposal to have this debate and a resolution.”

“I regret, however, the over-timid approach reflected in the co-signed Motion for Resolution presented by the EPP, ALDE and ECR. Condemning the use of violent and disproportionate interventions by state authorities during protests and peaceful demonstrations is definitely a demand which I fully share and I have strongly supported.”

“Nevertheless, it remains ineffectual if not accompanied by parallel and incontrovertible obligations on the part of member states such as, for instance, the clear commitment to prohibit the use of certain less-lethal weapons and devices by law enforcement authorities which can result in serious injuries with life-long consequences – as expressly requested in our motion for resolution and in the GUE/NGL amendments tabled to this resolution,” she said..

 *Paragraph 3 of the GUE/NGL amendment stated: Condemns the use of violent and disproportionate interventions by state authorities during protests and peaceful demonstrations; encourages the relevant authorities to ensure a transparent, impartial, independent and effective investigation when the use of disproportionate force is suspected or has been alleged; recalls that law enforcement agencies must always be held accountable for the fulfilment of their duties and their compliance with the relevant legal and operational frameworks.