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Council of Europe warns France not to clamp down on freedom of assembly

THE Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic warned France not to restrict freedom of assembly today.

Following a visit to Paris last month, the senior European official criticised the French state’s brutal crackdown on the “yellow vest” movement, which has seen police assault demonstrators with tear gas, baton charges and even fire gas canisters directly at people’s faces and chests, risking fatalities.

The French Interior Ministry admits that more than 3,000 people have been injured in the protests, which began over President Emmanuel Macron’s bid to raise diesel taxes but came to represent mass resistance to his tax cuts for the rich and attacks on public services.

Ms Mijatovic particularly attacked the use of rubber-ball launchers which have seriously injured demonstrators.

“The introduction of an administrative ban on demonstrating should be avoided,” she counselled.

The Council of Europe is not part of the EU but a separate and older institution which oversees the European Court of Human Rights and does not dictate members’ economic policies.

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