August 2023 | Ban on environmental group temporarily lifted
The June 2023 ban of the environmental group Earth Uprisings (Les Soulèvements de la Terre) was temporarily lifted on 11 August by the Council of State, the highest administrative court. The Court ruled that the Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, who originally decreed the ban, did not provide enough evidence of incitement to violence to justify the ban and that disbanding the group restricted the activists’ freedom of association and assembly. The group was dissolved after Darmanin accused its activists of “ecoterrorism,” following protests against the construction of water reservoirs in March that resulted in violent clashes with the police. The Court is expected to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case in autumn. In the meantime, the group will be able to resume its activism.
July 2023 | Journalists go on strike after editorial independence threatened
Geoffroy Lejeune, the far-right former editor of the Valeurs Actuelles magazine, has been appointed editor-in-chief at Journal du Dimanche (JDD), against the will of more than 95 per cent of its journalists. JDD is France’s biggest Sunday newspaper, known for its centrist position. Under Lejeune’s leadership, Valeurs Actuelles was found guilty of racist hate speech by a Parisian court. This decision comes with the takeover of Lagardère Media Group, owner of JDD, by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, who is known for purchasing French media outlets and imposing a right-wing editorial line on them. Fearing for their editorial independence and worried about media concentration, JDD journalists have gone on the longest strike in French media since 1975. They have received widespread support. Academics and civil society members signed open letters, Reporters Sans Frontières organized a rally for strikers, and lawmakers submitted bills to safeguard editorial independence in the French media.
June 2023 | Deadly police shooting of teenager sparks riots
A police officer fatally shot a 17-year-old boy at a traffic stop in Nanterre, near Paris. The police officer has been preliminarily charged with voluntary homicide and the circumstances of the shooting, captured on video by a bystander, are under investigation. France’s human rights ombudsman has opened an inquiry into the teenager’s death. The killing sparked protests and riots across France, leading to the temporary imposition of curfews in some Paris suburbs, and suspension of night-time public transport services in the Paris region. The shooting revived debates about police brutality, as investigations proceed regarding the proportionality of the police officer’s use of his weapon in view of 2017 reforms permitting the use of firearms for the purposes of self-defence or for the protection of life or physical integrity of others. The incident also fed concerns about racial profiling as well as discrimination against French citizens with immigrant backgrounds.
April 2023 | Experts find insufficient social integration of people with disabilities
A public decision of Council of Europe experts found that France has failed to meet its commitments under the European Social Charter to support social integration of persons with disabilities. The decision was issued further to a complaint introduced to the European Committee on Social Rights (ECSR) in 2018 by the European Disability Forum and Inclusion Europe, two associations representing organisations of persons with disabilities across Europe. The Committee pointed to limitations in adopting effective measures on social support services, accessibility (including to public buildings, facilities and public transport), and inclusion of children and adolescents with disabilities in schools.