PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron has announced measures to make the police more transparent about wrongdoing, including the publication of internal investigative reports and the creation of a parliamentary oversight body, with the aim of improving public confidence eroded by the scandals of recent years.
“When there are faults, they must lead to sanctions. When there are problems, they have to get a response, “Macron said.” We have nothing to fear from greater transparency. “
Macron said international investigative reports into allegations of police abuse and misconduct will now be made public. They must lead to “clear decisions” on officers and organizational issues, he added.
In addition, a new body made up of lawmakers from the National Assembly and the Senate will be tasked with assessing police actions, Macron said. A similar body exists for the intelligence services.
In his speech, Macron also sought to respond to demands from police unions to act in areas such as improving officer training, reducing red tape and increasing their presence on the ground.
He said the budget for the Home Office, which oversees police, will improve next year by 1.5 billion euros ($ 1.8 billion).
The deputy secretary general of the Unite SGP Police union, Jérôme Moisant, hailed on France Info the “quite extraordinary budget” to be released and the 50% increase in the time devoted to the training of officers throughout their careers.
The national police consultation was prompted in particular by the publication at the end of last year of videos showing a black man beaten by several police officers, using batons and tear gas for no apparent reason.
At the time, Macron said he felt “ashamed” and “shocked” by the severe beatings inflicted on music producer Michel Zecler, although he denied that racism or violence was systemic in the force. A judicial inquiry has been opened into the actions of the police in this case.
The French government launched an online tool in February to allow citizens to identify and denounce all kinds of discrimination issues.
Macron stressed that only 4% of the reports concerned police forces so far and that they had given rise to internal investigations.
Macron, who has yet to announce his candidacy for re-election but is expected to do so, notably said that a major law to modernize the police, including via digital, will be debated in parliament next year. He also wants to allow victims to file a formal complaint online from 2023. In the same year, cameras will be deployed in police cars, he added.
Security concerns are widely seen as the main theme of the upcoming campaign. Polls currently predict a duel between Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, with a victory for Macron, as was the case in the last French presidential election in 2017.
Macron’s speech also comes after a security law extending police powers went into effect earlier this year despite weeks of protests called by civil rights activists who feared it could threaten civilians. whistleblower efforts.
Last year, thousands of French people participated in the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday denouncing the disproportionate use of force by police using tear gas and cluster grenades to end a party involving around 1,500 people in Redon, western France, in June.
The violent operation resulted in a young man having his hand torn off. Several other people were injured.
Anne-Sophie Simpere, advocacy officer at Amnesty International, was skeptical of Macron’s announcements, believing that his government had not shown the will to in-depth reform of the police, including during the national consultation. She deplored that in recent years “there have been clear recommendations to improve respect for human rights and they have not been implemented”.
Simpere particularly regretted that Macron failed to take steps to quickly reduce the level of violence during police interventions in protests and rallies, such as banning cluster grenades and large rubber bullet launchers. speed that cause serious injury.