Defender of Rights highlights “increasing repression” in France

On 12 March the Defender of Rights of France, Mr. Jacques Toubon, said he was worried about a “reinforcement of repression” in his country. In its Annual Report, this independent authority also indicates a “collapse” of fundamental rights and freedoms, caused by the introduction of the state of emergency in 2015.

In France, “a policy of strengthening security and repression in the face of the terrorist threat, social unrest and the fear of a migration crisis fueled by a self-reliance” has taken root, according to the authority charged with the defense of citizens vis-à-vis the administration.

In the 2018 Report, which analyzes the period of the birth of the “yellow jackets” movement, the institution headed by former right-wing Minister Jacques Toubon questions, among other things, the “unprecedented” number of arrests and preventive custody by the police during some demonstrations.

According to the Report, the directives of the authorities to control the social protest “seem to be in continuity with the measures of the state of emergency”, decreed after the attacks of 13 November 2015. The state of exception, which remained in force for two years and was partially converted into law, worked as a “poisoned pill” in that “it has gradually contaminated the ordinary law, thus weakening the rule of law”. For the Defender, “it has contributed lay the foundations for a new legal order, based on suspicion, which affected fundamental rights and freedoms”.

Such an approach on security also permeates the law with regard to foreigners, according to the same Report, signaling that France is carrying out “a policy based mainly on a ‘policing the foreigners”, which reflects a form of ‘criminalization of migration'”. However, in 2018, claims relating to the public services have drawn most of the Defender’s attention: they make 93% of the cases dealt with by his institution, which has been increasingly called in. With 96000 cases in 2018, requests presented to the Defender increased by 6.1% in one year.

Late payment of pensions, closure in the prefectures of the offices issuing driving licenses, “empty doctors’ offices”: the Report warns against “the withdrawal of public services”. A grim picture which the Defender links to the fiscal anger expressed by the “yellow jackets” movement. According to Mr. Toubon, “through the gradual retreat of public services, which constitute are the backbone of the consent to taxation in France, the redistribution of wealth and the feeling of solidarity are being lost, and social cohesion is progressively weakened”.

Read the original article on the website of Le Monde website

Translation: Matteo Angioli

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