FRANCE: HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVERS ARE ESSENTIAL DURING PROTESTS – interview with the observatory of police practices

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Observatoires des pratiques policières is a network of local observatories to bear witness to the experience of demonstrators across France.
These observatories play a fundamental role in the defence of freedom of peaceful assembly, documenting and denouncing repressive police practices and policies. Their important victory gained official recognition of the role that human rights observers play, like journalists, at protests, and the outlawing of heavy-handed police practices in the police rulebook provisions used in the context of protests via a State Council ruling.
The following interview with Nathalie Tehio, lawyer and member of the Observatoire parisien des libertés publiques was carried out in September 2021 as part of the Activizenship #6 – Civic Space Watch report 2021.

  • Can you explain to us the genesis of the situation that led to the emergence in France of observatories of police practices?

The last social movements that took to the streets their concern and demonstrated have been met with suspicion, discontent, and violence from the authorities.

The major trade union demonstrations in 2016 against the El Khomri law clearly showed the change in the way police and gendarmerie forces carry interventions. Notably, we saw an increase in the number of demonstrators questioned by police officers within the processions.

In November 2018, the right to demonstrated was challenged more than ever, by the disproportionate police violence against the “Yellow Vests” movement. The “crossroads” rallies and especially the Saturday demonstrations were subject to brutalisation as a result of police interventions, with repression rapidly becoming repetitive and regularly disproportionate. The violent acts of some demonstrators were used to give the police a free hand. For instance, by carrying our arrests for minor offences and preventing people from joining the processions because they were wearing their bicycle or motorbike helmets, decision makers and police forces created a deterrent to demonstrate. In 2019, hiding ones’ face in a public space became a punishable offence in France. In certain cases, police forces prevented people wearing headscarves from entering a demonstration venue as they argued the garment could be used to hide the face. Additionally, the police has been given broad power, taking the example of the offence of concealing of one’s face during a demonstration, it is a preventive offence[1] for which the police has a wide margin of appreciation in choosing if the action will amount to a contravention or an arrest for an offence punishable by imprisonment. The accused will be able to justify themselves eventually, but they would have already been prevented from demonstrating and would have been registered in the police file and taken into custody. Thus, creating an impactful deterrent. During the Yellow Vest movement, the number of serious injuries reached levels not seen in France for decades.

The primary consequence of these actions is an increase of tensions among the demonstrators. In addition to the multiplication of police deterrent actions, several factors accentuated the intensity of the violence exercised by police forces.

First, a policy of decreasing the number of police officers led to calling for reinforcement to oversee demonstrations. Police forces that were not trained to intervene in the context of demonstration had to step in. These police officers were often members of teams based in working-class neighbourhoods[2] known for their frequent use of force, often disproportionate and sometimes racist. These teams implement a doctrine of engagement opposed to the techniques used in demonstrations which leads to the deplorable use of force mentioned above. Second, from 2018 in Paris, new intervention brigades travelling on motorbikes were hired. It resulted in increased violence, which was arguably encouraged by a certain degree of anonymity provided by the helmets and the absence of a visible identification number for police officers. Finally, the use of weapons of war, defensive ball launchers (LBDs), so-called disencirclement grenades and offensive grenades, has had deleterious effects, since it permitted and encouraged their use, with insufficient or even non-existent supervision.

This violence shows that we are dealing with a systemic problem that questions the doctrine of engagement of the police forces, their training, and the conception that authorities have of demonstrations in a democracy. Demonstrations seem to be seen as a confrontation with those in power rather than consubstantial to democracy. The fact that the police contributes to ensuring the conditions for demonstrations that challenge a government’s policy is an indicator of the quality of democracy. In recent years, in the face of social movements and confrontations we have seen, the systematisation of police interventions based on a ‘preventive’ approach to repression. This doctrine of engagement has fuelled tensions ultimately used by political authorities to discredit the demands made and to criminalise demonstrators via preventive offences. A vicious circle has been set up which takes away the emphasis on the demands and claims of demonstrators.

  • How did the first observatories appear? What missions did they set themselves? Which civil society organisations are involved in the observatories?

We noticed that during large demonstrations, a significant part of government communication relied on highlighting clashes involving some demonstrators and denying the unnecessary or disproportionate nature of violence by police personnel. This led civil society and citizens’ organisations to fill the need to observe policing during demonstrations in order to report objectively and to document them accurately. 

The creation of an observatory has generally taken the form of inter-association and trade union groups with members of the Ligue des droits de l’Homme and the Syndicat des avocats de France, but also, depending on the city, other national or local partners (Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Nice, Rennes, Seine-Saint-Denis, etc.).

These images help to counter the justification regularly put forward by authorities of a context that would explain police violence, they also help victims of violence, to prove their side of the story in face of police statements. For example, when observatories transmitted videos to the media showing the targeting of journalists by a police commissioner in order to beat them, or the unregulated firing of grenades resulting in mutilation.[3] The observatories were able to report on police practices during demonstrations in general. This was done through reports that put specific facts into a global analysis framework. The Nantes and Montpellier observatories reported more specifically on police behaviour criminalising the activity of demonstrators arrested under false pretences.[4]

Finally, the observatories produced guides or legal tools to enable demonstrators to take ownership of their rights and defend themselves in the event of an arrest for instance.[5]

  • Who are the people who make the observations? Are they trained and if so, in what? Can you explain the methodology followed during the observation missions?

The first observatory to be physically present at demonstrations was created in Toulouse, It was composed of activists from partner organisations, in conjunction with sociologists from the CNRS who participated in the creation of the first observation grids.[6] Ordinary citizens can also join the observatories, according to the specific modalities of each of them. At the beginning, observers were trained directly on the ground, all the more rapidly with the multiplication of demonstrations. To ensure the effectiveness of their observations, they developed observation rules based on feedback and collective discussions, including inter-observatory discussions.

Analysis grids were developed to guide the observation and its transcription. Training has also been organised on specific issues: the safety of observers themselves when they are in the field; observation practice: what information should be memorised throughout an observed sequence; knowledge of the weapons used by the police, the uniforms used to recognise the intervening units, etc. Training also included knowledge of the right to demonstrate or of police custody.

  • Can you show us the ‘back and forth’ between the kind of police behaviour that challenges the freedom to demonstrate and developments in legislation or in the political climate that in turn have a worrying influence on police practices?

One of the phenomena that explains these challenges to the freedom to demonstrate is the instrumentalisation of laws to validate illegal practices.

I will start with the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation to check bags around demonstrations, prior to the provisions introduced in the April 2019 Act. This law legalised the control of bags through requisitions issued by the Procureur de la République. Even though the Constitutional Council had specified that it was not possible to act in the field on the basis of weapons by destination (an object only becoming a weapon after use), we have seen all sorts of objects (helmets, masks, sometimes scarves, physiological serum, etc.) being confiscated and arrests made in the name of prevention.[7] The directives issued jointly by the Ministries of Interior and Justice illustrate the instrumentalisation of justice in the service of an extensive conception of policing.[8]

Another misuse concerns the offense of “assembling”. The Court of Cassation specified that the offense of “assembling” is a political offence which would normally preclude its prosecution through a procedure of immediate appearance (an expeditious trial procedure).[9] Despite this fact, the law of April 2019 made it possible to prosecute “assembling” through an immediate appearance procedure. Additionally, the same law created a new offence of concealing one’s face during a demonstration, which was the ground for several preventive arrests and police custody.

Instrumentalisation of laws encourages the police to multiply unauthorised behaviour with the expectation that these behaviours will be validated afterwards. It results in courts displaying more leniency during a trial including by taking into account in their interpretation of the texts the legalisation of police abuses by successive laws or ministerial instructions.

Another point is that the practices of police forces evolved towards a more confrontational approach. The encirclement and entrapment techniques have become ordinary police practices. The use of violence against peaceful demonstrators under the pretext of the absence of prior declaration has often been observed, whereas the European Court of Human Rights gives precedence in this case to the freedom of peaceful assembly.[10] There were untimely summonses (orders to disperse), which were issued outside the situation that could legally justify them.[11] Police officers or gendarmes confirmed to observers, off the record, that they had been ordered to “impact” demonstrators. We have seen demonstrations resulting in major damage that took place in front of police officers who did not intervene at the time, but brutally later, when the perpetrators of the damage had already left. It was as if there had to be two images: violent demonstrators (giving them time to develop their rampage) and police officers in action.

The impunity of police officers who commit violence is encouraged: the absence of an individual number,[12] is accepted by the hierarchy and accepted by the political authorities. Observers were able to document this non-compliance with the legislation.[13] The wearing of a balaclava by police officers, allowing them to hide their faces, was also tolerated.

Additionally, not all demonstrations are treated in the same way: the presence in number of major media outlets or the absence of a stake for the government goes hand in hand with greater freedom in the conduct of the demonstration. It is noticeable that many high school student gatherings are dispersed immediately and violently, without necessity, as if young people had to be educated not to protest.[14]

There is a tendency to lead public opinion to consider that protest demonstrations are intolerable disturbances of public order and justify the violent intervention of the police. This takes on new forms in France, such as a framework within the demonstration (“flanking”, making it possible to impose a rhythm on the march or to divide the demonstrators into several parts of the procession), upstream control of participation in the demonstration, and dispersal orders issued well before the route has been completed.[15] The promoters of these methods have been rewarded several times by the authorities.[16] The idea of using the forces dedicated to maintaining order to protect the freedom to demonstrate seems to have disappeared from the objectives assigned.

The government seeks to control information gathered by journalists or independent observers but also images of police violence filmed by demonstrators. It demonstrated this by passing the Global Security law through an accelerated procedure.[17] The Senate finally eliminated the provision allowing the use of images filmed by police officers for information purposes: the police would have given the press pre-formatted images. Then the Constitutional Council censured an article aiming to give the police the power to prevent the filming of law enforcement officers.[18] The government also strengthened the surveillance of demonstrators: through drones and social media.[19] A police state is thus emerging, with increased surveillance, particularly digital, especially as the Council of State has refused to give full effect to the CJEU’s decision on the ban on mass digital surveillance.[20]

Faced with these developments, the Paris Observatory submitted for discussion a key interpretation based on the theory of the “criminal law of the enemy”: the authorities would consider that they were facing an internal enemy, which would make acceptable a de facto derogation from the ordinary rules and guarantees, and ultimately the multiplication of exceptional practices.[21]

  • Have observers in the field experienced repression by the police? In what forms?

Police officers have deliberately hit observers or thrown grenades in their direction.[22] Complaints or referrals to the Human Rights Defender have been made. Prosecutions were also brought against a female observer in Montpellier, accusing her of “obstructing traffic” and of several offences related to her observation practice. Her role as an observer, making her a non-participant in the demonstration, was however perfectly identifiable. She was acquitted, but these prosecutions constitute real obstacles to the mission of citizen observers.[23]

Obtaining full recognition of the legitimacy of the role of observation and being able to exercise it fully in the field is essential. This is why the Observatories have worked to ensure that international texts (UN / OSCE and Venice Commission) and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights concerning citizen observers are respected. The French Human Rights Defender has asked that they be considered in the field as journalists. The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights took up this recommendation in an opinion and a parliamentary commission of enquiry also noted it.[24]

Finally, following an appeal by a member of the Paris Observatory, the Consel of State annulled provisions that hindered the action of citizen observers by recognising their role.[25] This is a step forward and a potentially useful precedent for other European countries that may be affected in the future.

  • Do you make reports? Who do you report to? What actions are taken on the basis of these reports? Beyond the national level, do you also address the European level?

The observatories have produced reports or observation notes on what they have observed.[26] Based on their observations, they have referred the matter to the Human Rights Defender in France, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, and also the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

The national reports are published. They serve as a working basis for associations or trade unions that undertake observation work. This helps to strengthen the general argument for their advocacy or lobbying work in relation to their own observations.

At the national level, the reports are used for hearings by parliamentary commissions of enquiry.

  • Can you explain the referral to the Council of State against the doctrine of police engagement at demonstrations, its consequences and how were the observatories involved?

The referral to the Council of State was made by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, the National Union of Journalists, as well as by a member of the Parisian Observatory of Public Liberties, the French Lawyers’ Union, the Magistrates’ Union, the Association of Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) and the Union syndicale Solidaires, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and the National Union of Journalists CGT.

The referral concerned not only the protection of observers but also of journalists, particularly with regard to the possibility of wearing protective equipment, of remaining after a dispersal order and of positioning themselves freely for observation, subject only to the constraint that they should not directly interfere with the police. The Council of State annulled the contested provisions on the basis of these points.[27]

The Council of State also prohibited the practice of the authorities to decide in a discretionary way which journalist would get accreditation to obtain privileged information. This is a welcome decision that no longer leaves the executive in control of restricting freedom of information, however, it validated the requirement of a press card to be a recipient of such information.

In addition, the appeal was lodged against the nasse and other encirclements’ techniques, based on the report produced by the Parisian Observatory of Public Liberties.[28] This report showed that this technique infringes on several freedoms, in particular the freedom of movement and the freedom to demonstrate. Crucially, it showed how this technique is contrary to the collective expression of opinions, in that it muzzles freedom of speech and criminalises demonstrators.[29] The Conseil of State did not prohibit the use of encirclement, but set out criteria to ensure that it did not run counter to the freedom to demonstrate. The Council of State also laid down criteria that apply to non-hermetic enclosures.

The European Court of Human Rights has admitted the use of the nasse technique but under three conditions: that it is the only means of preventing serious violence; that the aim is not to hinder freedom of demonstration; and that an exit door is left as soon as possible. These three conditions are not met by the engagement doctrine implemented in France.[30]

  • What other legislative developments, political actions or legal decisions are needed to ensure the protection of freedom of demonstration at national and European level? Do you have any other litigation in progress or on which you wish to work?

The development of “obstructionist” (or “preventive”) offences that hinder the exercise of the freedom to demonstrate must be prevented. In particular the decisions taken prior to any demonstration, which are the result of police convenience offences, allowing for arbitrary placement in police custody.[31] For example, the offence of planning to participate voluntarily in a group formed with a view to committing violence or damage.[32]

Additionally, the notion of “gathering” should be precisely defined, in a way that protects freedom to demonstrate, so it does not to allow the police and gendarmes to arbitrarily decide when to disperse, including by using force.

The prefect’s power to authorise the route of a demonstration must also be redefined. Indeed, the threat of a demonstration ban order is gradually transforming the declaration system into a request for authorisation. The prefect must be required to give his answer within a period of time that allow an appeal to be made.

There should be a ban on the use of so-called “non-lethal” weapons in demonstrations, such as LBDs, offensive grenades and even disencryption grenades. These weapons cause mutilation because the conditions in which they should be used are incompatible with the demonstrations’ settings. The use of tear gas should be strictly regulated.[33] Certain arrest techniques must be totally banned: the belly-hold or the chokehold, in particular.

Police training must be reinforced, both in terms of techniques learned and applicable law. Only specially trained police officers should be allowed to intervene in demonstrations.[34] Assuming that the Austin judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the closed-circuit system is not reformed, compliance with the conditions laid down must at least be taught and imposed.[35]

The identification of police officers, in particular by the legible wearing of their personnel number in readable print must be imposed.

The primary objective of the officers intervening in demonstrations must be to respect the exercise of this democratic tool, to be mindful of the dignity of people, and to protect demonstrators. The doctrine used should depend on the circumstances of the demonstration and not on a policy dictated by the government for electoral purposes. The “policy of numbers” also has deleterious effects in this area: violence against people for a rubbish bin fire, mass arrests, etc.[36]

Finally, investigations should be carried out by an independent body, not by an authority under the Ministry of the Interior made of police officers. The current police inspectorate has discredited itself with biased investigations into police violence.[37] For instance, the recordings of surveillance cameras in public spaces are almost never seized in time to be able to view the images after a demonstration;[38] the weapons used are not always seized, which makes it impossible to demonstrate the involvement of a particular weapon, and thus to find the author of the shooting. [39] The lack of independence of the police inspection service means that it must be abolished in any case, in favour of other types of control.[40]

  • In the reflection of the observatories, do you think that the European Union could play a positive role on issues related to the freedom of demonstration?

It would be good if the European Union could produce, perhaps with the support of the Fundamental Rights Agency, a practice guide for the respect of the right to demonstrate. The annual monitoring exercise on the rule of law should have a broad approach which implies including the observation of police violence (unnecessary or disproportionate use of force) and making judgements on its illegitimacy. The use of weapons, whether in demonstrations or during security operations on the territory, should also be subject to analysis, comparison and judgement. Weapons such as LBDs and grenades should be banned. States should be required to explain the circumstances that led to the serious injury or death of people, and prove that an independent investigation was carried out.[41]

France should be pressured to participate in the EU-supported Godiac research programme to find new ways of calming relations between demonstrators and police during political demonstrations.[42]

The EU’s contributions should be based on existing texts (UN / OSCE – Venice Commission).

The interview was carried out 2September 2021.

[1] If violence or damage is committed with the face covered, it is an aggravating circumstance of these offences, violence with the face concealed…Here, it is an autonomous offence, punishable by one year’s imprisonment, “except for legitimate reasons”.

[2] The BAC (brigades anti-criminalité), CSI (compagnies de sécurisation et d’intervention) and other police officers not specifically trained in maintaining order (e.g. in Paris, CI -compagnies d’intervention- and Brav-M -brigades de répression de l’action violente, motorised; elsewhere, CDI, compagnies départementales d’intervention) are the ones who cause the most serious injuries, and who needlessly increase tension. Observers saw these police officers put themselves in danger during arrests in the middle of demonstrators, forcing the companies dedicated to maintaining order to come and “recover” them, at the cost of using force.

[3] Arthur Carpentier – investigation by Le Monde – https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=le+monde+vid%c3%a9o+commissaire&docid=608018256571597709&mid=0FC2583BFB475C9C909E0FC2583BFB475C9C909E&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

[4] Nantes Observatory: “Exercise of policing in Nantes and respect for rights”, report of May 2019; Montpellier: Report on the judicial repression of the yellow waistcoat movement, hearings of the correctional court from 29 December 2018 to 18 March 2019 and second report, from 23 March 2019 to 29 October 2019

[5] “Points droit”: Filming police officers and gendarmes; Wearing of personnel numbers by police officers and gendarmes; Removal of badges, acronyms and banners at the end of a demonstration; Interpellation of a person with a helmet before a demonstration; Demonstrator’s guide

[6] Centre national de la recherche scientifique (public research organisation, under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation)

[7] CC n°94-352 DC 18 janvier 1995, Loi d’orientation et de programmation relative à la sécurité, §18

[8] Exemples : circulaires du ministre de l’intérieur du 21 avril 2021 INTJ2111626J et du ministre de la justice du 22 avril 2021, JUSD2112858C

[9] Highest judicial jurisdiction. Crim. 28 mars 2017, n° 15-84.940, au Bull. crim. n°82. Participation to a mob: article 431-4 du code pénal. The procedure of immediate appearance cannot be chosen for a political offense.

[10] https://echr.coe.int/Documents/Guide_Art_11_FRA.pdf

[11] See the report of the Parisian of the observatory of public freedoms: report towards the ombudsman on the demonstration of the 28 June 2019 on the Sully bridge

[12] RIO : référentiel des identités et des origines. Voir le « Point droit » de l’Observatoire parisien pour les références textuelles.

[13] Despite a recent ministerial instruction called « Schéma national du maintien de l’ordre », on 16 September 2020. See notes of the Parisian Observatory and the Toulouse Observatory.

[14] The Human Rights Defender has taken up the issue of violence committed against high school students at the Lycée Colbert in Paris (10ème), for example. The example of the “class that behaves itself” in Mantes-la-Jolie in 2018 is illustrative of this drift: the high school students were forced to kneel on their knees, hands on their heads, for several hours, while the police officer filming them made this comment.

[15] See the report in 4 parts on the kettling and other technical encirclement written by the Parisian observatory of public freedoms

[16] Qui a mis en place les Brav-M (voir ci-dessus) :-brigade de répression de l’action violente motorisée ; Observatoire girondin des libertés publiques : « Maintien de l’ordre à Bordeaux, 17 novembre 2018 – 16 février 2019 : Une politique d’intimidation ». http://oglp.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/OGLP_rapport_v1_29042019.pdf ; Rapport de l’Observatoire parisien des libertés publiques : « Rapport d’observatoire – Manifestation des gilets jaunes. Paris, place d’Italie 16 novembre 2019. La stratégie de la nasse contre la liberté de manifester ».

[17] See the open letter inter-observatories to members of parliament against the Global security law reminding that ‘’police is a public force, the public character is the safeguard of the people’’ Analysis in the report of the Toulouse observatory on police practices « 4 ans après ».

[18] CC 20 mai 2021, n°2021-817 DC, Loi pour une sécurité globale préservant les libertés. Sur l’article « 24 » de la proposition de loi, devenu 52, voir §158s.

[19] The draft law on criminal responsibility and national security uses the text censored by the constitutional court: https://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/dyn/15/textes/l15b4387_projet-loi ; Décrets du 2 décembre 2020, n° 2020-1511 (PASP) ; n°2020-1512 (GIPASP) ; n°2020-1510 (Enquêtes administratives, EADS)

[20] CE Ass. 21 avril 2021, n°393099, Rec. Lebon

[21] See part 4 of the report on the kettling and other technical encirclement written by the Parisian observatory of public freedoms: ‘’kettling is police technic that highlighted a vision of demonstrators as enemies’’

[22] See the article in the Revue des droits de l’Homme by Anna Hertkorn et Alexandre Richard (members of the Parisian observatory) and the cited references: « Garantir la protection des observateurs indépendants et l’accomplissement de leurs missions », Actualités Droits et libertés, 26 avril 2021, §33s. Since the publishing of this article : https://actu.fr/occitanie/toulouse_31555/toulouse-un-observatoire-denonce-une-violence-unilaterale-des-forces-de-l-ordre-contre-les-manifestants_41468612.html and the  rapport d’observation on the Paris demonstration of the 1st of may p.17s and the video: https://twitter.com/ObsParisien/status/1389127074372362244

[23] See the analysis of Amnesty international regarding international law https://www.amnesty.fr/personnes/camille-halut

[24] Cf the previously cited article in the Revue des droits de l’Homme

[25] Article in the Revue des droits de l’Homme by Bérénice Checchi et Nassim Harket (members of the parisian observatory): « Schéma national du maintien de l’ordre : la sanction provisoire d’une doctrine ambigüe et imprécise. Retour sur la décision du Conseil d’Etat du 10 juin 2021 », Actualités Droits et libertés, 5 juillet 2021.

And : https://www.facebook.com/obsparisien/ (11 juin)

[26] See the list of observation reports or notes. In the latest notes produced, see: note on the evacuation of a migrant camp on 17 November 2020 by the Observatoire du 93 des pratiques policières, press release from the Observatoire nantais des libertés about violence committed during a high school demonstration; Open letter of 22 June 2021 to the prefect of Ille et Vilaine and to the Minister of the Interior after the Redon demonstration – rave party by ORLIB, the Rennes-based observatory of public liberties; on the demonstration of 21 July 2021 in Toulouse

[27] CE 10 juin 2021, n°444849 et autres

[28] Report: “Controlling, repressing, intimidating: nasses and other police encirclement devices during Parisian demonstrations – spring 2019, autumn 2020”. Part 1: Typology. Part 2: “The political dimension of encirclement practices: is the demonstration still possible when the police encircle the procession?

Fabien Jobard, sociologist, and the magazine Savoir/agir, kindly authorised the Paris Observatory to reproduce an article comparing the French practice of the nasse with that of Germany, with an unambiguous conclusion: “This cross evolution of the political socialisation of police officers and the morphology of social movements make demonstrations in Germany a respected moment of collective expression, a world away from the fear that the very idea of going out to beat the cobblestones inspires in an increasing number of French people today.

[29] See the above-mentioned report on kittling and technical encirclement

[30] See the article in the Revue des droits de l’Homme de Capucine Blouet, Nassim Harket, Sarah Hunet-Ciclaire, Vincent Louis, Alexandre Richard et Nathalie Tehio (members of the Parisian observatory) : « La pratique de la nasse au regard du droit européen des droits de l’Homme », Actualités Droits et Libertés 24 mai 2021.

[31] Expression of professeur Olivier CAHN : « Construction d’un maintien de l’ordre (il)légaliste », Revue de sciences criminelles, 2020.1069.  The expression means that these offences were created more to enable the police to arrest people than to actually punish offenders.

[32] Article 222-14-2 of the criminal code. See part 4 of the above-mentioned report on demonstrators-enemies, p.10

[33] See the report of the Association toxicologie-chimie (ATC) by Alexander Samuel and André Picot in June 2020 on the long-term harmful effects of CS tear gas. Dispersion is often accompanied by a gas cloud, even without violence from the demonstrators (see for example the observation note of the demonstration of 17 November 2020 in Paris and the use of gas against a line of demonstrators wanting to leave the demonstration).

[34]  BAC, CSI, CDI, CI, and Brav-M (see note 2).

The technique of “de-escalation”, which requires flexibility, communication with demonstrators and a certain tolerance towards minor damage, is ignored and if the national policing plan creates “ELI” (liaison and information teams), it does not change the doctrine of interpellation by cutting off the procession violently if necessary, thus endangering the police officers dedicated to this function. In Toulouse or Paris, they do not yet seem to operate.

[35]   Analysis of French law in the light of this judgment in the above-mentioned article in the Revue des droits de l’Homme, note 36.

[36] The demand for performance in the form of numerical targets, a policy decided under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and still in force today, despite the government’s denials.

[37] For example, see the case of the death of Steve Maia Caniço in Nantes: the IGPN (national police inspectorate) claimed that his drowning in the Loire had no connection with the police operation to disperse participants in a concert on the evening of the Fête de la Musique. The examining magistrate entrusted the investigations to other police officers who, by using the victim’s telephone, showed that the operation and the fact that he had fallen into the water, like a number of other people, were pushed into the Loire at night and that there were no protective barriers.

[38] The recordings are only kept for 30 days, but the lawyers are experiencing the impossibility of obtaining them despite complaints to the IGPN.

[39] See the case of the death of Zineb Redouane, hit by a MP7 tear gas grenade with a 100 metre delay propulsion device (DPR100), while she was closing her windows on the 4th floor of a building in Marseille located 30 metres from the shooter. Five cougar lances were used but the CRS commander refused to hand them over to investigators. Independent journalists conducted a counter-investigation: https://disclose.ngo/fr/article/mort-de-zineb-redouane-les-preuves-dune-bavure

[40] For example, Senator Sophie Taillé-Polian proposed giving this power of investigation to the deontologist of the Defender of Rights: http://www.senat.fr/leg/exposes-des-motifs/ppl20-184-expose.html

[41] In France, the lack of transparency regarding serious injuries, mutilations or deaths during demonstrations led the journalist David Dufresne (grand prize at the 2019 International Journalism Awards) to create a website to document them: http://www.davduf.net/alloplacebeauvau

[42] Good practice for dialogue and communication as strategic principles for policing political manifestations in Europe: https://bulletin.cepol.europa.eu/index.php/bulletin/article/view/48