Macron announces greater scrutiny of French police after racism and violence cases

Macron announces greater scrutiny of French police after racism and violence cases
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP
President Emmanuel Macron has announced greater scrutiny of the police after allegations of racism and brutality have emerged, saying law enforcement should be "above reproach".

“When you love your security forces you cannot let them get away with anything,” Macron said, announcing a series of reforms aimed at boosting relations between the police and communities as well as improving officers’ working conditions.

“We must aim to be above reproach,” the president declared, adding that “when there are mistakes, they must be punished”.

A video showing four white officers beating up an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio in November 2020 served as the catalyst for eight months of consultations on how to reform the police.

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The attack on Michel Zecler caused widespread outrage and amplified complaints by French Black Lives Matter activists about brutality towards minorities, particularly black and Arab men.

The police reject allegations of institutional racism and say that they themselves are the victims of increasingly violent protesters and criminals, some of whom deliberately set out to maim or even kill officers.

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Macron on Tuesday said French society had grown increasingly violent and announced plans to double the number of police on the beat over the next 10 years.

He also pledged to increase the force’s budget by €500 million in 2022.

In two lengthy Instagram posts directed at France’s police forces, Macron thanked them for their service to the nation and work in reducing crime, adding that the changes would also benefit frontline officers.

Amnesty International and other rights groups say one of the biggest problems with policing in France is that the country does not have an independent police watchdog.

The Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale (IGPN), which currently hears allegations of abuses, is composed mostly of police officers and accused of bias by campaigners.

Macron on Tuesday stopped short of creating a new watchdog.

Instead, he proposed setting up a parliamentary body to evaluate the actions of the police.

He also announced that the results of IGPN investigations would in future be made public.

Ugo Bernalicis, an MP from the left-wing France Unbowed party, dismissed the changes, saying they failed to properly address the “numerous abuses by the police.”

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