A new report from Amnesty International has shed light on the abusive and illegal use of force by French police during the Teknival rave in Redon, Brittany, last June. Dozens of people were injured in the crackdown on revelers and organizers, with one participant losing his hand as police used tear gas and explosive grenades to smash the event.
This week, French President Emmanuel Macron closes a series of security consultations aimed at “modernizing public security policy for the benefit of police officers, gendarmes and all French people”.
However, in a new report titled “Redon: ‘Freeparty’ of repression,” human rights group Amnesty International has uncovered numerous human rights violations committed during law enforcement operations. to Teknival festival at the beginning of the summer, which had been banned by the prefecture of Ile-et-Vilaine.
On the night of June 18 to 19, 2021, gendarmes set off tear gas, grenades explosive grenades GM2L on the participants of Teknival near the town of Redon for seven hours, then again the next day, before illegally destroying the organizers’ sound equipment.
The police intervention resulted in the loss of a young man’s hand, with eleven gendarmes and dozens of participants injured – with injuries including broken bones, burns and respiratory distress.
Force was neither necessary nor proportionate
Using interviews with around ten people present – journalists, participants and heads of organizations – as well as videos and other published documents, Amnesty International analyzed the police response to this event in terms of international human rights law.
According to Amnesty, the proof of the Redon police operation indicates that the use of force was neither necessary nor proportionate, as required by both French law and United Nations Basic Principles on the use of force.
According to Cécile Coudriou, President of Amnesty International France: “It is unacceptable that law enforcement operations a fortiori to disperse a simple festival gathering, resulted in injuries, even mutilations.
The author of the report, Anne-Sophie Simpere, told RFI that the details of the mutilation of this party animal remain unclear: “According to the testimonies we have had from various eyewitnesses, there was an explosion, then he fell back with his hand torn off, ”said the investigator.
“We can’t conclude anything, but let’s remember he was on the ground at night, and grenades like the GM2L were thrown blind – there was very little visibility,” she adds, “and we know what kind of injuries they can create.”
Complaints against the police are investigated by the police themselves
Following this report, Amnesty International calls for an independent body to investigate complaints against law enforcement officials. Yet this type of police “Ombudsman” is present in many countries around the world, so why is this body not already established in France?
Simpere says this is a question that needs to be put to the French authorities.
“We had a mediator in France, but he has very little power,” she said. “He has no investigative powers in matters of judicial inquiries.
“For allegations of police brutality or discrimination by police forces, this is addressed to the IGPN, which is a internal mechanism within the police. Police officers are therefore the subject of investigations by their peers. “
According to the author of the Amnesty report, among the many people who were injured that night, most do not even consider filing a complaint, because they believe “they will not have access to to justice ”.
Whether the ban on the assembly is legitimate or not, law enforcement officials did not respect the principles of necessity and proportionality on the use of force under international law.
For Amnesty, force was used as a first resort, without mediation or prior communication, without instructions on how to evacuate the site, which was in a field, at night.
Neither the ban on the festival nor the violence of some participants towards the police can justify the failure of the state and its agents to respect human rights in all circumstances.
In addition, Redon is not an isolated case: whether it is the death of Steve Caniço during a night police operation in Nantes during a party, or the mutilations and serious injuries observed during demonstrations, Amnesty maintains that police abuse is endemic in France. for years.
The Ile-et-Vilaine prefecture was contacted for comment by French media but refused, citing that two investigations were underway.
“Crowd control grenades” are a regular part of the French police arsenal
In January 2020, the GLI-F4 explosive grenades were decommissioned by the French police, replaced by the allegedly non-explosive GM2L grenade. Is the replacement grenade less dangerous than its predecessor?
Anne-Sophie Simpere is a Amnesty International researcher and author of “Redon: Freeparty of Repression”