MS Risk Blog

Amnesty International Reports France Using State of Emergency Against Peaceful Protests

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Amnesty International has reported that officials in France have used the state of emergency, which was imposed after the Paris attack of November 2015, in a bid to curb peaceful demonstrations. The rights group has indicated that hundreds of decrees wee issued under the emergency laws, banning public assemblies or individuals from protests.

According to a report compiled by Amnesty, between November 2015 and 5 May 2017, there were 155 decrees issued under the emergency powers prohibiting public assemblies. It goes on to state that there were also 639 measures aimed at preventing individuals from taking part in public assemblies, the majority of them related to protests against proposed labour law reforms. In a statement, Amnesty’s research Marco Perolini disclosed that “emergency laws intended to protect the French people from the threat of terrorism are instead being used to restrict their rights to protest peacefully,” adding “under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labour rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests.” Amnesty also reported that security forces used “unnecessary or excessive force” against peaceful protesters “who did not appear to threaten public order.”

The state of emergency allows searches without a warrant and people to be placed under house arrest. It is set to expire on 15 July, however President Emmanuel Macron has already disclosed that he will ask parliament to extend it for the sixth time until November. The measure was introduced in the wake of the attacks on 13 November 2015, when militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS) group killed 130 people in gun and bomb attacks around the capital.