Police Brutality Directed Against Pro-Family Demonstrators
Category: Government Restrictions
Attack against: Morals
Nature of attack: Governmental
Tags: Freedom of Expression | Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) | Freedom of Association and Assembly
Please find below extracts from a report presented on June 25th 2013 at the Council of Europe during a hearing on the French "Manif pour Tous and its police repression" held in conjunction with the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
A report by the European Centre for Law and Justice:
This report contains numerous testimonies of victims of police brutality. This brutality was directed against the social movement in defence of the family, which challenges the law opening marriage and adoption of children to same-sex couples. For the most part, these testimonies have been communicated by the victims' lawyers. They allow overlap, to corroborate and to prove facts which, for a country such as France, are grave and have been unprecedented for decades.
Indeed, since late 2012, numerous French citizens have conducted peaceful protests throughout France in order to defend the family and the rights of children, in opposition to this new law, which creates a right to marriage and the adoption of children to same-sex couples. Due to its enormous size, this social movement is the largest in France since May 1968.
The three major demonstrations, as well as the many "vigils," were held in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere, causing no destruction of private or public property. However, the government responded in a manner unacceptable in a democracy, responding as if they were subduing a violent faction. It threatened its prohibition; it repressed it through the inappropriate use of tear gas and police
violence against the crowds; and finally it arrested and arbitrarily detained the demonstrators by the hundreds.
Therefore, from the 24th to the 26th of May, around 350 people were arrested and held in custody for up to three days. Of these 350 people, only seven were convicted, and only to light sentences. The other arrests were arbitrary and were aimed to stop the social movement, in violation of fundamental freedoms of expression and manifestation.
In addition to the 350 arrests, hundreds of people were arrested and detained for several hours under the pretext of identity checks. Often, they were arrested based on “facial discrimination” i.e. for wearing clothing marked with the symbol of the movement.
At no time have the legality of these arrests been checked by an independent magistrate. This demonstrates a serious and structural dysfunction of the procedures of identity checks and of police custody, which were employed as arbitrary sanctions, imposed without judgment.
The identities and finger prints of the demonstrators arrested are at present held by the police, which is in violation of their rights, as determined by the European Court of Human Rights in its decision in M.K. v. France on April 18, 2013 (19522/09). The ECLJ therefore requests that the names of the people arrested and not prosecuted be erased from the files.
As we write these lines, the ECLJ shares the concern of numerous people regarding the sentencing of Bernard-Nicolas Buss; a twenty three year old Parisian student, who was arrested Sunday, June 16th on the Champs-Elysees in Paris after a peaceful demonstration. Prosecuted for resisting arrest, he was sentenced Wednesday, June 19th to four months in prison, two of which are non-suspended, and was immediately imprisoned in Fleury-Merogis. There he was put in solitary
confinement. All of this, however, without his being charged with any act of violence against persons or property by the judges.
These practices must cease, be denounced and condemned.
This report will be submitted to the competent bodies of the Council of Europe and the United Nations in Geneva. It will serve to document the various proceedings initiated by the victims, elected officials and NGOs which are currently before these institutions. If necessary, it will be updated.
Report in English (extracts)
Report in French (full version)