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Offbeat Amnesty condemns "judicial harassment" against demonstrators in France

10:20  29 september  2020
10:20  29 september  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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A spokesperson for Amnesty International speaks out against the recent deadly clashes between police and anti -government demonstrators in Ethiopia.

The Observatory strongly denounces these acts of judicial harassment against Mr. Stefanovich Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich as well as against all other human rights defenders, and ensure his rights to a fair trial at both hearings

Le rapport d'Amnesty International documente des dizaines de cas de manifestants pacifiques « arrêtés arbitrairement » et « victimes d'acharnement judiciaire ». (PHOTO D'ILLUSTRATION) © LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP Amnesty International's report documents dozens of cases of peaceful demonstrators "arbitrarily arrested" and "victims of judicial harassment". (ILLUSTRATION PHOTO)

In a damning report published on Tuesday, the NGO criticizes the deleterious effect of certain provisions of French criminal law on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.

Police violence against demonstrators in France has been widely publicized, "judicial harassment" they are the subject of, less. In a damning report released on Tuesday, Amnesty International denounces a system designed to "crack down" people who often have not committed crimes.

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Every year, Amnesty International evaluates the human rights situation in countries around the In May, he filed a complaint with the IGPN against the police officer who pushed him and against Judicial authorities convicted some of the perpetrators. On 28 October, a man attempted to burn a

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights. If you are talented and passionate about human rights then Amnesty International wants to hear from you.

In 2018 and 2019, more than 40,000 people were convicted of various offenses and offenses “on the basis of vague laws” , frequently “used to illegally restrict the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of 'expression' , says the NGO.

Its 56-page report documents dozens of cases of peaceful demonstrators "arbitrarily arrested" and "victims of judicial harassment" , according to Amnesty, during the period of popular mobilization of "yellow vests" and against pension reform .

"Descent into hell"

Frédéric Vuillaume, union manager of Force Ouvrière and "yellow vest" from the first hour at Besançon , recounts a "descent into hell" for him and his family, who had yet never had to deal with "neither with the police, nor with justice" before the demonstrations of November 2018.

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"It is true that I have a big mouth and that when I speak to the megaphone, one hears me, but that does not make me a criminal, I have never committed any violence ”, assures this 48 year old maintenance agent.

"I was only relaying messages on Facebook calling for mobilization, like everyone else" , he says. But the prefecture and the prosecution did not hear it that way. Accused of being one of the "leaders" of the movement in his city, he should, according to them, have declared the gatherings.

"Pressure shots"

Police custody, house searches, court summons… A long cycle of "pressure shots" and "intimidation" which will last two years then started for the activist and his relatives.

Tried three times for obstructing traffic and insulting a person holding public authority - he shouted “Castaner assassin” during a trip by the Minister of the Interior at the time - Frédéric Vuillaume was banned to demonstrate and ordered to pay a total of eight fines.

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Judicial harassment can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits or administrative proceedings. Accusations often used against HRDs range from violations of protest laws, NGO laws or public order to entirely fabricated charges of terrorism, subversion or crimes against the security of the state.

His wife has been indicted twice and his 22-year-old stepson, with no criminal record, was sentenced in February 2019 to one year in prison including six months closed for throwing a mortar firecracker.

"Make examples"

"Violence during demonstrations is a legitimate concern, but there is a political will to set examples and dissuade people from taking to the streets" , affirms Marco Perolini, researcher for France at Amnesty International.

The offenses, often formulated "too vaguely" , lead the courts to pronounce "disproportionate" sanctions against peaceful demonstrators, according to the researcher.

In addition, "the demonstrators are regularly arrested and prosecuted for" regrouping with a view to participating in violence "on the basis of mere suspicion" , he adds.

According to official statistics, 1,192 people were convicted of this offense in 2019.

Procedure canceled

Julien and Gilles were arrested and searched on February 17, 2019 as they reached a roundabout blockade at Toulouse . In their pockets, police found distress flares, a ski mask and a dust mask.

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Every year, Amnesty International evaluates the human rights situation in countries around the world. The government continued to pursue an anti -immigration agenda through laws and policies aimed at restricting access to rights and preventing people rescued at sea from disembarking in Italy.

After twenty-four hours in police custody, the two forty-year-olds were prosecuted for “participation in a gathering with a view to preparing violence” and “carrying smoke without a legitimate aim” .

Freed on bail, they no longer had the right to set foot in Toulouse pending trial. Two months later, the criminal court declared the procedure “null and void” .

But again, the prosecution appealed against the decision. They were finally acquitted for lack of evidence in December 2019.

New laws, new offenses

"I think twice before attending a demonstration, since today you can end up in prison without having done anything" , testifies Gilles, on condition of anonymity in the report.

According to Amnesty, the repression of demonstrators has increased with the adoption of new laws, notably that of April 2019, penalizing behavior that was not previously a crime, such as covering the face.

In 2020, the health crisis provided an opportunity to further extend restrictions on the right to demonstrate: according to the NGO, 85 people were fined for demonstrating in May and June.

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