French PM slaps down UN rights chief on Yellow Vest police violence

Yellow Vester Jerome Rodrigues being led away after injury at protest
Yellow Vester Jerome Rodrigues being led away after injury at protest AFP/Zakaria ABDELKAFI

The French Prime Minister has given a curt response to a call, by United Nations Human Rights boss Michelle Bachelet for a detailed inquiry into allegations of police violence during the Yellow Vest demonstrations.


Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Bachelet should be given the full picture of “incidents of extreme violence”, notably against “law enforcers and public property”.

French 'rule of law'

In France, we have the rule of law”, he stated adding that an investigation is automatically conducted when a complaint is lodged against the police.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux recently gave figures dating from March 1st, detailing that the IGPN (whose role is to investigate possible police misconduct) had opened 162 investigations into police behaviour during the protests.

The security forces’ use of rubber bullets is a major source of controversy, in particular the so-called defence ball launchers, (LBDs) that fire 40 millimetre rubber projectiles.

French campaigners recently lost a legal bid to force police to stop using them, although France’s official ombudsman, Jacques Toubon, has called for their use to be suspended, citing their “dangerous nature”.

LBD draft law

Today, the French Senate is to discuss a draft law on banning LBDs but it is unlikely to be adopted.

According to a collective called “Désarmons-les" (Disarm them) 20 people have sustained serious eye injuries since the Yellow Vest protests began. The group says 17 of them have been blinded.

A key figure in the Yellow Vest movement, Jérome Rodrigues has been told by doctors he will probably lose sight in one eye after damage caused by an LBD.

The police maintain the protests have been infiltrated by militant groups intent on violence and that they need effective weapons to defend the public and themselves.

The police have released evidence of some of the unofficial weapons collected after arrests, which include baseball bats and hammers.

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