FRANCE: On ‘Hottest Day in History of France,’ World Told ‘Do Not Look Away’ as Police Tear-Gas Climate Campaigners in Paris

UPDATE 19 July: Following these findings, the Paris Observatory of Public Freedoms recalls:

  • that the right of assembly and freedom of expression are recognized and protected in accordance with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • that the right to demonstrate does not depend on any authorization from administration: this is a simple notification process. Participating in an undeclared demonstration does not constitute an offence;
  • that the massive use of tear gas in close proximity of the faces [of protesters] shows the normalization of their use, even when the situation is peaceful and calm;
  • that State violence should be strictly necessary and proportionate to the needs of law enforcement or the offence perpetrated as required by the European Court of Human Rights (cf. L. 435-1 and R. 211-13 CSI), which does not appear to have been respected on Sully Bridge;
  • that the European Court of Human Rights rules that “the public authorities must show a certain tolerance towards peaceful gatherings, so that the freedom of assembly guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention is not deprived of any content“. A group of demonstrators gathered to attract the attention of the public on a pressing issue does not threaten public order; and “possible traffic disruption“, “does not justify… an infringement of freedom of assembly“, including if it was a question of “maintaining traffic in a busy main road” (ECHR 15 November 2012, Celik v/ Turkey, req. n° 34487/07 §92);
  • that in London, in the presence of a similar demonstration, the police apparently learned to exercise caution, since each demonstrator sitting or lying down, not opposing active resistance, was carried without violence by several police officers.

Consequently, the Paris Observatory of Civil Liberties is questioning the capacity of the chain of command of law enforcement to manage a peaceful assembly on the public highway other than by excessive  and disproportionate use of force, which deprives the freedom of assembly of any content guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It also recalls that, in a democracy, when the use of force does not comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality, the police have a duty to refuse to obey a manifestly illegal command (article 122-4 of the Criminal Code).

An investigation by an independent body is necessary. The IGPN, which is integrated into the police, could not meet these criteria.

(Translated with DeepL – Read the full text by the Paris Observatory of Public Freedoms in French)


(Common Dreams – 28 June) French riot police tear-gassed climate protesters in Paris on Friday (June 28) as the county sweltered under record heat.

Activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) were occupying a bridge over the Seine to demand the French government declare a climate emergency and take necessary action to avert planetary catastrophe.

“We need to civilly disrupt because, otherwise, nothing is going to be done,” a British woman who took part in the protest told Euronews.

Video shows the police teargassing the protesters at a close range and then forcibly trying to remove them from the scene.

350 Europe described the display of police violence as “shocking.”

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who ignited the School Strike for Climate movement, said on social media: “Watch this video and ask yourself; who is defending who?”

The action also drew praise from the U.S.-based Sunrise Movement, who gave props to the protesters for “putting their bodies on the line for climate justice.”

The XR action took place as temperatures hovered in near 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) in Paris—far cooler than in some other parts of the country.