The Council of Europe – the continent's leading human rights watchdog – on Friday, March 24, criticized French police's "excessive use of force" during demonstrations against an unpopular pension reform, APA reports citing La Monde.
"Violent incidents have occurred, including some that have targeted the forces of law and order," its commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic said.
"But the sporadic acts of violence of some protesters or other reprehensible acts committed by other persons during a protest cannot justify excessive use of force by agents of the state. These acts are also not enough to deprive peaceful protesters of their right to freedom of assembly," she said.
"It is up to the authorities to allow the actual exercise of these freedoms by protecting peaceful demonstrators and journalists covering these protests against police brutality and against violent individuals acting within or on the sidelines of marches," she added.
Anger has boiled over in the street since French government last week invoked a controversial executive power to force through the bill without a parliamentary vote. Police have detained hundreds as they try to disperse daily protests in Paris and other cities, but rights advocates say they have released the large majority without pressing charges.