PARIS: On Tuesday, the French authorities ordered an investigation into the forcible evacuation of a migrant camp in central Paris by the police, which sparked uproar at the ‘brutal methods used.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he had committed to the Paris Police Chief’s request to send the matter directly to the National Police Inspectorate General (IGPN), which is reviewing the actions of officers.
The government is now facing a storm of backlash that critics say would erode police transparency over proposed security laws being discussed in parliament.
Officers used tear gas to dismantle the Paris site, set up to protest the forced eviction of hundreds of refugees from other camps earlier.
In Republic Square, volunteers helped build about 500 blue tents that were easily filled by refugees, the majority from Afghanistan. Shortly afterwards, police arrived to clear the tents, sometimes with people already inside in the face of refugees’ demonstrations and activists’ jeers.
They are too abusive,” the 34-year-old Afghan Shahabuddin said, crying after being evicted.” We only want a roof.” Tear gas and rough tactics were later used by police, with videos posted on social media showing one officer tripping a man as he ran, and another officer slamming into a man who was trying to intervene.”
The dispute comes a week after refugees, including those who were not provided with alternative accommodation, were rescued from temporary shelters in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis.
Ian Brossat, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, said The state has made a regrettable show.”
Laurent Berger, president of the CFDT labour union, told France 2 TV that police acts were “scandalous and astounding.”
People respectfully share a square with tents, only because they have a housing crisis, they don’t hurt anybody. And there is this utterly undue intervention,” he said.
After receiving a report confirming “several unacceptable facts” from Paris police chief Didier Lallement, Darmanin, who had previously identified several of the photographs of the removal from the camp as “shocking,” said that the IGPN would submit its conclusions within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Paris prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into the possible use of abuse by an official in control after pictures shared on social media showed a cop discovering a migrant as he raced away.
A letter to Darmanin was written by Paris Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo condemning the security forces’ “brutal and disproportionate use of force,” which she claimed was “unfortunately not without precedent” in the region.
With thousands passing by, mostly going to England, Paris is a main stop-off point on the European migrant route.
Encampments sprout up across the city repeatedly, only to be broken down by the police.
The new elimination of the camp comes when the government is moving a security bill through parliament that will limit the releasing of images or videos of the faces of police officers.
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Media unions say that a green light may be issued to the police to discourage journalists from doing their job and possibly reporting crimes.
As a moderate who rallied support from across the political spectrum, President Emmanuel Macron swept to power in 2017. But as he faces re-election in 2022, opponents and even some fans suspect him of tilting to the right.