Brussels (Brussels Morning) Amnesty International has condemned as “arbitrary” the large number of detentions the police carried out during the 12 December Paris protests against France’s controversial security bill, RFI reported on Monday.
“People protesting against the dangerous Global Security Bill have been arrested and detained on spurious grounds,” Amnesty’s Europe researcher Marco Perolini declared “The heavy-handed way in which French police have dealt with these protests only emphasizes why scrutiny over policing is so necessary.”
The controversial bill seeks to restrict the ability of citizens to circulate images of police violence, while at the same time increasing police surveillance powers over citizens through the use of CCTV cameras and camera-equipped drones.
Public protests against the bill gathered tens of thousands of people, including journalists, activists and others. According to Amnesty International, 142 people were arrested in Paris during the 12 December protest, yet no charges were subsequently filed in nearly 80% of the cases.
Threat to rights
Amnesty cites witness testimonies and available video footage as evidence that the arrests were not preceded by audible warnings, and that they occurred at times when no significant disorder had been observed in the march. Protesters were flanked by a heavy police contingent on both sides, which prevented them from leaving the march.
“Detaining people who are peacefully protesting against a law which would further trample over their rights is a move straight out of the ‘human rights violators’ playbook,” Perolini said. “These dangerous practices pose a grave threat to the rights of people in France.”