Liberté, Egalité, Brutalité
The self-proclaimed nation of human rights has suffered a blow. For the last week and a half, France has faced major strikes and demonstrations against the pension reform bill rammed through by President Emmanuel Macron. More than the economic details of the bill, it is now the violent police repression that has eyes turned to France.
While the brutality of French police forces is hardly new, in recent days it has been loud enough to echo outside France. On Friday 24 March, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic criticised France’s handling of the protests, recalling that "sporadic violence from certain protesters and other punishable acts committed by others in the course of a demonstration cannot justify the excessive use of force by state agents". In this, she agrees with multiple organisations and observers who reproach France for its "heavy-handed" management of the ongoing crisis.