FRANCE: Excessive and indiscriminate force deployed to police climate and social justice march in Paris

A number of associations and collectives as well the “yellow vests” movements called for a peaceful climate and social justice march on 21 September. However, according to the Paris Observatory for Public Liberties, when degradations occurred from a small group of protesters, law enforcement authorities reacted with disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force on all demonstrators. Some bystanders or even families sitting nearby also suffered from those indiscriminate police practices. Read the statement by the Observatory below: 

(29 September 2019) The freedom to assemble freely and demonstrate are fundamental liberties that are essential in a democratic society. It is the responsibility of the public authorities to ensure these liberties through appropriate measures.

The Paris Observatory for Public Liberties’ teams were present on September 21st during the “climate and social justice march” and deplore the repeated infringements on these liberties.

The Observatory notes that a quasi-militarised peacekeeping force, consisting of heavily equipped officers, was deployed right from the start of the demonstration, near the Luxembourg garden, in the immediate vicinity of several groups of protesters.

Over the course of the demonstration, the Observatory noticed that so-called “war materials”, such as LBD-40, were used. These materials can cause irreversible injuries when used without the correct precautions.

The Observatory also noted that police units not specialized in peacekeeping, and, especially the BRAV-M and anti-criminality brigade, were deployed once again. The intervention of these units remains blatantly unsuited to these situations.

The systematic deployment of these security apparatuses raises questions on the suitability of such measures in the context of demonstrations organised by associations that are identified as “non-violent” (Non-Violent Associations) and declared to the prefecture.

Reports also indicate that tear gas was used by law enforcement units indiscriminately in the area of the Bercy park, including on families present in the park.

The Observatory restates that occurrences of disturbance of public order do not give police forces the legitimacy to intervene recklessly and disproportionally.

The behaviour of law enforcement units during this demonstration is part of a wider trend that has been observed over several months. It illustrates the lack of any de-escalation strategy as well as the occurrence of individual actions by law enforcement officers that are at odds with their deontological principles.

The Parisian Observatory for Public Liberties will continue to collect information and witness testimonies, with the aim of publishing a periodic report. Furthermore, the Observatory will not miss out on the opportunity to respond to the requests of the group of independent experts designated by the UN’s Council for human rights, who will visit France for the second time in early November 2019.



List of the associations and collectives who called for the climate and social justice march”: ; ActionAid France ; Adéquations ; Agir pour l’environnement ; Alternatiba /ANV-COP21 ; Amis de la Terre France ; Association l’ ge de faire ; ATD Quart Monde ; Attac France ; Bizi ; Boycott Citoyen ; Collectif des Associations Citoyennes ; Cap ou pas cap ; Carre Geo&Environnement ; CCFD-Terre Solidaire ; Chrétiens Unis pour la Terre ; Citoyens Pour le Climat ; CliMates ; Colibris ; Collectif Gilets Jaunes Argenteuil ; Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie (CRLDHT) ; Confédération paysanne ; Coordination EAU Île-de-France ; CRID ; CSP75/CISPM ; Earth Strike France ; E-Graine ; Enseignant.e.s. pour la planète ; Étudiants et Développement ; FAIR[e] un monde équitable; Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR) ; FIDL, le syndicat lycéen ; Fondation Danielle Mitterrand ; Fondation ELYX ; Fondation pour la Nature et pour l’Homme ; France Nature Environnement ; Fondation de l’écologie politique ; Give a Fuck ; Gilet jaunes Rungis IDF; Gilets Jaunes Argenteuil ; Gilets Verts ; Grands-parents pour le climat France; Greenpeace France ; Il est encore temps ; Immigration Développement Démocratie ; Ingénieurs sans frontières ; La Mine ; Le Début des Haricots ; Ligue des droits de l’Homme ; Le Mouvement ; L214 ; Mouvement de la Paix ; Mouvement Utopia ; MRAP (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples) ; Mouvement National Lycéen 75 ; Mouvement pour une alternative non-violente; Notre Affaire À Tous ; Nous voulons des coquelicots ; ODASS ; On est prêt ; One Voice ; Oxfam ; Parents For Future France ; Parvis ; RADSI Nouvelle-Aquitaine ; REFEDD ; Réseau Action Climat ; Réseau Foi et Justice Afrique Europe ; ResiWay ; Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire ; Secours Catholique Caritas France ; Sciences Citoyennes ; Sherpa ; SOL ; Un Climat de Changement ; Union des Tunisiens pour l’Action Citoyenne (Utac) ; Union syndicale Solidaires ; Unis Pour Le Climat ; Urbamonde ; Vegan Impact ; Workers For Future France ; Webassoc; WWF France ; YFC France ; Yes We Green ; ZEA.