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Public services at half-mast, repression on the rise: the Defender of Rights sounds the alarm

From foreigners to yellow vests to the fight against terrorism, the annual report of the Defender of Rights points to "Reinforcement of the repression" in France while worrying about a "Fallback" public services that undermine social cohesion. "In France, in parallel with the decline in public services, a policy of strengthening security and repression against the threat of terrorism, social unrest and the fear of a crisis of migration fueled by withdrawal has been implemented. ", summarizes in its report published Tuesday this independent authority responsible in particular to defend the citizens face the administration.

The institution, headed for almost five years by former right-wing minister Jacques Toubon, is still in demand: with a total of 96,000 cases in 2018, the Defender of Rights has seen claims increase by 6.1% over the past year. year and 13% over two years. "The reality the Defender has been telling for years in his reports did not start on November 17", first day of national action of yellow vests, explains Jacques Toubon to AFP. But the claims addressed to the institution reflect the "Feeling of injustice and inequality that comes from the movement of yellow vests".

Preventive arrests

In its 2018 report, which covers the period of the movement's emergence, the institution wonders in particular about "The number of arrests and police custody ever witnessed" preventively "" during certain events. According to the institution, the authorities' directives to manage social protest "Seem to be in line with the measures of the state of emergency", decreed after the attacks of November 13, 2015.

This exceptional regime, which remained in force for two years and of which certain provisions have been retained in the law, acted as a "Poison pill" arrival "Progressively contaminate common law, weakening the rule of law", says the report. For the Defender, he "Helped lay the foundations for a new legal order, based on suspicion, in which fundamental rights and freedoms suffer some form of subsidence".

The institution, which has opened several investigations into the policing of recent protests, has also seen a jump of almost 24% in "The ethics of security", the majority of which concern the action of the police. Since January 2018, the Defender also advocates the ban on LBD and the dismantling grenade GLI-F4, two controversial weapons accused of serious injuries among yellow vests.

Budget pressure

This security logic also permeates the right of foreigners, according to the Defender. Procedure hardened by the asylum and immigration law of 2018, unjustified use of tear gas during camp evacuation, "Persistent attacks" the right of foreign minors: France leads, according to the report, "A policy essentially based on the" police of foreigners ", reflecting a form of" criminalization of migration ".

In the middle of the campaign for the European elections, the institution recommends that "France suspends the application of the regulation" Dublin, which allows asylum seekers to be returned to the first country where they have filed their fingerprints. This framework, hardly followed in Europe, "Gives rise to many claims, complex", he recalls.

In 2018, however, it is the claims related to public services that have, in a very large part (93%), the most occupied Defender of Rights: delays in the payment of certain pensions, removal of the counter in the prefectures to issue the driver's license, "Medical deserts" Budgetary pressure on administrations and their dematerialization "Forced march" worries the institution, which alert on "Digital exclusion". About 7.5 million people remain "Deprived of quality internet coverage", she recalls.

A blackboard that the Defender connects to the fiscal flush expressed by the yellow vests. According to him, "By gradually fading away, public services, which in France constitute an essential element of tax consent, undermine the redistribution of wealth and the feeling of solidarity, progressively undermining social cohesion ".

RELEASE With AFP

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