FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wrongs In Wine-Land

Editor’s Note:

This article from Ferguson In Paris, an anti-police brutality group in France, does not contain a byline. The reason for this is because members of that group say they must maintain anonymity as much as possible remain to avoid abusive retaliation from authorities and others in France. “We publish under the name of the organization because of fierce repression regarding activists dealing with police brutality,” explained a Ferguson In Paris member during a recent email exchange with ThisCan’tBeHappening.net. The claimed support by French government authorities and other for freedom of speech following the fatal shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office last January 2015 apparently do not extend to French activists opposed to brutality by French police. (Ferguson In Paris, an organization that fights against police brutality and racism/discrimination in France, works in solidarity with anti-brutality groups in the United States.)

AN UGLY UNDERSIDE OF FRANCE: RAMPANT POLICE BRUTALITY

In 2005, the human rights monitoring organization Amnesty International published a report titled: “France: The search for justice.” That Amnesty report examined allegations of serious human rights violations by law enforcement officials across France between 1991 and 2005. Those human rights violations by law enforcers included unlawful killings, excessive use of force, torture, and other mistreatment. Racist abuse was reported in many cases examined by Amnesty and racist motivation appeared to be a factor in many more. As that report noted, the persistent targets of police abuse in France are “foreign nationals or French nationals of foreign origin.”

On the basis of the evidence examined, Amnesty International concluded that a pattern of de facto impunity existed with regard to police and other law enforcement officials in France. Failures by French officials “to address” police abuses have created a “climate of effective impunity for law enforcement officers,” the report stated.

That report identified a number of factors contributing to this impunity. Those factors included gaps or flaws in legislation; reluctance or failure of police, prosecutors and courts to thoroughly investigate and prosecute human rights violations involving law enforcement officials; and sentences which were not commensurate with the gravity of the crime. Like Ferguson and most other places in the United States, the Amnesty report stated that convictions of abusive police across France are “relatively rare, or when they occurred, sentences have mainly been nominal.”

The effects of this are most clearly visible in the outbreaks of violence that have occurred sporadically following deaths related to police interventions. For example, in November 2005, riots erupted after the deaths of two children — Zyed & Bouna – who were pursued by police officers in Clichy-sous-Bois, a town located outside of Paris. Regrettably, French authorities have failed to implement any of the key recommendations aimed at combating the human rights violations and impunity identified in Amnesty International’s 2005 report.

As a consequence, the problems identified in 2005 could still be found four years later as documented in a second report from Amnesty International titled: “Public Outrage, Police Officers Above the Law in France.” Issued in 2009, this secon report uncovered continuing allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement officials in France. The procedures for investigating such allegations are still failing to live up to the standards required by international law, and people in France still expect better in 2015.

Furthermore, just like Amnesty International, we are concerned at what appears to be an increasing trend in which individuals who protest or attempt to intervene when they witness apparent ill-treatment by law enforcement officials find themselves subjected to criminal charges of “outrage” (insulting a law-enforcement official) or “rebellion” (violently resisting a law-enforcement official in the course of his/her duties). These trends have a very serious dissuasive effect on individuals seeking justice for human rights violations they have witnessed or suffered from, and consequently exacerbate the existing climate of impunity.

Since the publication of Amnesty International’s 2005 & 2009 reports, allegations of mistreatment by law enforcement officials in France have continued. This abuse by police includes excessive or inappropriate use of force leading, in some cases, to permanent injury or death. Embedded in this abuse is persistent discriminatory behavior towards members of certain ethnic groups by members of the security forces and a lack of accountability for such acts.

This is the context in which Amadou Koumé, a 33-year-old father of three, died on March 6, 2015. During that fatal incident, a bartender called 911 because Koumé, who was seated alone at a table, seemed worried and was making incoherent comments aloud. The police called the French Anti-Crime Squad for backup and Koumé, under the influence of drugs, literally panicked at the sight of their guns.

Despite the fact that some clients and a barman testified that Koumé, although impressive in build, had notbeen violent to them, police put Koumé in a choke hold while they handcuffed him upon their arrival. Authorities determined that the death of Koumé was caused by “mechanical asphyxiation” -– just like the police custody deaths of Lamine Dieng in Paris in June 2007 and Hakim Ajimi in the French city of Grasse in May 2008.

The autopsy report on Koumé, dated March 21, 2015, was delivered to the family’s lawyer on April 29th, only after the case was revealed to the public on April 20th by the French newspaper, Le Parisien. The findings are overwhelming and the autopsy concluded that Amadou Koumé had died of “pulmonary edema induced by asphyxiation as well as facial and neck trauma.”

Since then, the family of Koumé and friends have been struggling for his case to be presented in court so that justice can be rendered over this brutal death that was initially proclaimed by law enforcement to be a “death consecutive to a dizzy spell.”

To display our frustration and distrust, we will demonstrate peacefully to demand Truth and Justice in Amadou Koumé case on Saturday, October 10, 2015 from Paris Nord Train Station.

More articles by:

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail