France: a police state?

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The French authorities have reinforced the state of emergency in the country, but many see it as a way to exercise greater control over its population.

“You cannot contain our anger,” shouted protesters in Paris and other major French cities last week, again raising the ongoing issues between the people of the state and their president and the government in the sense large.

The protests took place through a collective effort by the Yellow Vest collective, a coalition of journalists, Human Rights Watch, and the general public against a law currently being enacted.

The “Comprehensive Security” law awaiting imminent approval threatens a prison term of one year plus a fine of 45,000 euros for broadcasting a recording of a police officer (or other security forces). order).

More precisely, “disseminate by any means whatsoever and whatever the medium, with the aim of harming his physical or mental integrity, the image of the face or any other element of identification of an official of the national police or a member of the national gendarmerie when acting within the framework of a police operation. “

This situation has aroused both concern and indignation among politicians and citizens. The protest request was denied twice before approval for Nov. 17, where 33 people were arrested and hundreds injured were reported. Riot police were dispersed to several towns ahead of the protest and used water cannons and tear gas to control crowds; videos flooded social media of CRS forces beating people with batons, shooting women by the hair and indiscriminately targeting water cannons and tear gas.

The police are known to be violent in France; it is currently at a manifestly high level across the country, with the government facing both a pandemic and a number of dangerous incidents committed by both radical Muslim and white supremacist attackers in recent months. The government uses two different strategies to control these problems which undeniably expand the police powers that allow abuse and corruption.

First, in response to recent attacks, Macron raised to the highest level the state’s emergency level of the “Vigipirate Plan”, a series of security measures and levels (re) created in 2015 in response to the terrorist attacks. . This, according to the government website, three new measures will be taken by the authorities; security in places of worship, especially for All Saints’ Day celebrations, etc. the safety of public buildings, with particular attention to schools and health establishments; security of French nationals, interests and assets abroad. It also means the deployment of up to 7,000 military troops across the country to secure these areas.

Writing from a small French village in the heart of the country, with a very small population – mostly elderly people and small families – tanks have been seen on several occasions in addition to an increase in the number of gendarmerie forces as well that of the municipal police.

The most concerning part is the government’s request to actively involve the population in counterterrorism efforts by looking for warning signs and ways to report suspicious behavior, creating a culture of paranoia in an already society. extremely polarized – the citizen is now invited to make the police his fellow citizen.

In response to the surge in coronavirus cases, Macron decided almost three weeks ago to place the country in another lockdown until at least December 1. This included closing restaurants, even delivering food at certain times, non-essential businesses, curfews, among other safety and health measures.

However, after suffering in a number of areas during the initial lockdown, from a spike in domestic violence to an economic crisis, people were unwilling to repeat the experience; even the World Health Organization and other health experts have advised against lockdowns unless absolutely necessary. This is particularly troublesome for the population because throughout the summer the whole country reopened, including the borders when the health system was already clearly stressed and the virus was still circulating.

By boosting the economy, it is a priori clear that the number of patients will increase – irresponsible governance becomes evident to the population, as well as a growing understanding of police corruption that goes with it.

The municipal police, as well as the national gendarmerie, were dispatched to set up random checks throughout the country, which is ultimately seen as a way for the government to generate money and to more closely control a population of more and more rebellious.

These checks are for a self-authorization form that you must carry indicating the details of your ID as well as the reason for your departure. If you do not have one with you, you are liable to a fine of 135 euros.

Commercial parking now requires people to wear face masks, and you will often find police in supermarket parking lots, almost on the hunt, to get individuals fined. This is reinforced when officers encounter resistance, they quickly invoke the power of emergency law and can stop and search. This is often done based on appearance, however, when it comes to handing out fines, very few people have one.

Also, if you don’t pay some fines, they get worse and higher. A major issue in this regard has been discussed nationally for the past two years when a report highlighted an annual bonus of 600 euros paid to officers based on the number of fines imposed throughout the period. ‘year. In addition, the arming of the municipal police (usually unarmed patrols) has raised concerns in some segments of society.

Yes, France is facing unprecedented times, and a reinforced security network is needed. But as presented here, the government’s plans are only intended to intimidate, profit and generate paranoia among those who live in France.

From unjustly aggressive riot police to the dispersal of military troops on the ground, to ruthless and corrupt gendarmerie forces and newly empowered municipal police, leaving home has now become a game of Pac-man, even when you don’t. are not wrong.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views and editorial policy of TRT World.

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