Police violence in France continues
14 November 2014
In 2011 Amnesty International published a report denouncing police impunity with regard to deaths in custody, of whom the majority of victims belong to minority groups, particularly French people of North African descent. In March 2012, two police officers were found guilty of involuntary homicide following the death of Hakim Ajimi in custody, and were given a suspended jail sentence by the Criminal Court.
Still, police violence has remained widespread and, as reported by Amnesty International in its annual report, is on the increase.
In its 2013 annual report, Amnesty warned against the rise in police violence in France. According to the organisation, inquiries into allegations of police violence are not in-depth : "Disciplinary procedures and judicial inquiries regarding such incidents fall continuously short of international standards."
A confrontation on 25 October 2014 between environmental activists and law enforcement authorities saw the death of Remi Fraisse, a demonstrator. Fraisse and other protesters were camping on the site of a dam-building project in Sivens, south-west France. Gendarme forces were also present at the site.
The autopsy found that Fraisse died after being hit in the back by a grenade. Whether the grenade was thrown by the paramilitary police or a gendarme officer has not be clarified yet. Many protests around the country denounced police impunity and the killing of a peaceful person.
The French Human Rights League has welcome the opening of a judicial inquiry and stressed that the death of a protester "is indicative of the misuse, if not the excessive use of force by the police."
This is the second time that infrastructure projects being carried out by the socialist government have been faced with massive protests and subsequent police violence.
In this context, the Human Rights League has emphasised that "the government has to take into account the expression of peoples' opposition and has to value this criticism in the democratic process of confronting divergent views, then accept it and finally consider that the future of society is not defined solely by the authority's will."
The government stepped back and announced the suspension of the dam project a week after Fraisse's death.
Death of Remi Fraisse