A hundred complaints were filed in Paris on Friday to denounce "arbitrary arrests and detentions" in the context of the protests against the pension reform, a group of over twenty lawyers announced at a press conference.
For the lawyers, the numerous arrests and detentions over the last few weeks were pointless and aim "to break the social movement," especially since they are rarely followed by prosecutions. According to them, the arrest procedures in the French capital are dismissed 75% of the time by the public prosecutor's office in Paris.
Clashes with police and scuffles have marred the French protests against pension reform in several cities including Paris, where the march was calmer than during the previous mobilisation, AFP noted. Around 201 people were arrested and 175 police officers and gendarmes were injured, the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in a statement on Thursday.
French police have been recorded to show unethical behaviours: a recent tape verified by the journal Le Monde, several police officers were caught threatening young people they had arrested during the protests, and using "sexual remarks, threats and boasts" to intimidate them.
"We already have a picture of your face. Next time you show up in the street we'll recognise you," a French policeman said to a detainee on the tape.
The lawyers' complaints accuse the police and the judiciary of three offences: arbitrary infringement of personal liberty by a person holding public authority, failure to intervene to stop an illegal deprivation of liberty and obstruction of the freedom to demonstrate.
Denouncing "punitive detention", the legal group also criticised "the violence that takes place during these arrests and in parallel", which will be the subject of separate complaints "in the days to come."
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In addition to the arrests, the lawyers condemned the disproportionate means used by the police and the public prosecutor's office to dissuade the population from returning to the demonstration. "In a democracy, this is not acceptable," said Alexis Baudelin.
For several weeks, organisations such as the League of Human Rights (LDH), the left-wing Judges' Union (SM), the left-wing Lawyers' Union of France (SAF), but also left-wing political parties, have been criticising "police repression".
According to the Interior Minister, 13,000 police and gendarmes – including 5,500 in Paris – had been mobilised for the 10th day of protests against pension reform, an arrangement he described as “unprecedented”.