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European Parliament denounces excessive use of force against demonstrators

Saturday, 16 February, 2019 - 22:13

The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday condemning”the recourse to violent and disproportionate interventions by the public authorities during peaceful protests and demonstrations”.

The resolution “on the right to peacefully protest and the proportionate use of force”, which is not binding, was passed by 438 MEPs, with 78  voting against and 87 abstaining.

The text, which calls on member states to “ensure that the use of force by law enforcement agencies is always legal, proportionate and necessary and that it is ultimately used to preserve the life and physical integrity of persons” reaffirms that “the indiscriminate use of force against the crowd is contrary to the principle of proportionality”.

The first version of the text, brought by a coalition of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S & D), the Greens and the GUE (European Unified Left), explicitly condemned “the use of certain types of lethal weapons used by police against peaceful protesters, such as the kinetic impact projectiles” as well as “the use of tear gas”.

It called for “evidence concerning the misuse, (…) injuries and deaths and their causes” due to the weapons used by the police” to be collected.

The resolution also assures its support to the police, “which also counted many victims in its ranks, working in difficult conditions, especially given the hostility shown by some demonstrators, but also the excessive workload”.

The debate, called for by a coalition of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S & D), the Greens and the GUE (Unified European Left), was Monday was partly motivated by the situation in France where weekly “yellow vests” protests have often led to clashes between demonstrators and police.

The French environmentalist Yannick Jadot denounced the use of LBDs, which has caused many serious injuries and even debate within the police .

For the French MEPs from Génération.s (S & D group), “the President of the French Republic must hear the European Parliament’s warning and review its policy of maintaining order, which leads to an escalation of violence”.

“I worry about my country, I worry about the freedoms in France and I’m worried about the authoritarian tipping of President Macron,” said French MEP Younous Omarjee.

The EPP (European People’s Party) group, which brings together the right-wing parties, obtained a declaration specifying that the resolution is not aimed at Paris, Madrid or any other capital, and that it does not recommend the prohibition of defence weapons like flash bangs. This led to the Greens voting against the resolution, with the GUE abstaining.



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