MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Human rights in France are being increasingly stifled far more frequently under the guise of national security, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
"Although the French authorities traditionally tout the protection of human rights as one of the state’s key policy priorities, lately France has ever more frequently resorted to restricting civil rights and freedoms, justifying it by claiming national security," she said.
The diplomat noted that the problem of police brutality and the violent suppression of protests, which often descend into altercations with the police, is widely discussed in France right now. She pointed out that, during the 2018-2019 Yellow Vests demonstrations, around 14,000 rubber bullets were fired at protesters, and roughly 2,500 citizens were injured, over 12,000 people were apprehended and some 2,000 convictions were handed down. She added that journalists covering protests, including Russian ones, often find themselves in hot water.
The spokeswoman recalled that, amid rising crime rates and the Islamic terror threat, the National Assembly of France passed a bill on comprehensive security in the first reading. Zakharova pointed out that this triggered large-scale rallies by opponents of this bill, followed by clashes with police. According to the diplomat, this testifies to the public’s backlash against President Emmanuel Macron's policy course that is headed towards restricting freedom of information.
The National Assembly began reviewing the bill, dubbed The Fauverge Law after one of its authors, a former police officer and politician, Jean-Michel Fauverge, on November 18. The first protests in Paris followed immediately. The bill has primarily come under fire over Article 24, which prohibits "disseminating, by any means or medium whatsoever, with the aim of harming their physical or mental integrity, the image of the face or any other identifying element of an officer of the national police or member of the national gendarmerie when acting during a police operation.”
On November 28, one of the biggest rallies not seen since the time of the Yellow Vests occurred, drawing roughly 133,000 people. Police say some 46,000 protesters flooded the streets of Paris, to demonstrate against the bill and demand the resignation of certain officials. The protest took a violent turn and descended into massive riots, in which 98 police officers were injured and some 80 rioters were apprehended.