France: Paris police prefect Didier Lallement and journalists - in numbers

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has tallied all the cases of police violence against journalists in Paris during the three years and four months that Didier Lallement was Paris police prefect. Lallement was finally replaced by Laurent Nuñez on July 20.

 

34 cases of police violence against journalists in Paris in 2019

Didier Lallement took over as police prefect in Paris on 21 March 2019, at the height of the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests, which began in November 2018 and triggered a wave of incidents involving reporters and the police. Paris saw a total of 34 cases of police violence against journalists in 2019.

At least 29 cases of police violence against journalists in Paris in 2020

In 2020, Lallement’s first full year as prefect, RSF identified 29 cases of police violence against journalists in Paris. Most of the physical violence against journalists in 2020, both in Paris and the rest of France, was police violence. The case of Ameer Al Halbi, a freelance press photographer of Syrian origin, was emblematic. He was badly injured in the face by a very violent blow from a police baton while covering a “March for Freedoms” protest on 28 November 2020. In coordination with Halbi, RSF filed a complaint accusing Lallement and an unidentified police officer of responsibility for “an act of deliberate violence by a person holding public authority.” Around 20 arbitrary arrests of journalists were also tallied in 2020.

11 cases of police violence in 2021/first half of 2022

There were nine cases of police violence against journalists in 2021, a decline that was confirmed in the first six months of 2022, when only two cases were tallied. But another disturbing phenomenon developed in 2020 and 2021 – the many cases of physical attacks by protesters against journalists, who were often not adequately protected by the police, especially during protests against anti-Covid measures. RSF drew attention to these inadequacies and asked the authorities to provide reporters with better protection.

In all, more than 70 physical attacks against journalists by police

RSF tallied more than 70 physical attacks against journalists by police in the capital during Lallement’s period as police prefect. Police violence and arbitrary arrests of reporters covering protests increased in 2019 and 2020, before declining significantly in 2020 and 2021 against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and the ensuing fall in the number of protests. 

This decline can also be attributed in part to the work of the Delarue commission on relations between police and media. Consultations initiated by the prime minister, to which RSF contributed, led to the interior ministry’s adoption of a new National Law Enforcement Plan (SNMO) in December 2021. Its provisions included the creation of a “contact group” consisting of journalists’ representatives – including RSF – and the authorities – including the Paris prefecture of police – which meets every month under the interior ministry’s aegis to discuss threats to journalists, including threats from the police.

10 complaints filed by RSF

Police violence against journalists may have declined during the latter part of Lallement’s period as police prefect but they definitely did not end. Three journalists were insulted and assaulted by police officers while covering a protest against a rally held by presidential candidate Éric Zemmour in Villepinte in December 2021. RSF filed a complaint about the case. In all, RSF filed complaints for a total of 10 journalists who were the victims of police violence in the Paris region while Lallement was police prefect.

Zero trials

Of the ten complaints filed by RSF, six were dismissed, one is still under investigation, and none has so far given rise to a trial.

Zero tolerance demand

Lallement’s record as prefect was clearly negative. Despite the fall in the number of cases of police violence against journalists during the final 18 months, RSF continued to register serious police abuses. RSF calls on the new prefect, Laurent Nuñez, to aim for a complete end to police violence and for zero tolerance for any violation of journalists’ right to cover protests.
France is ranked 26th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

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26/180
Score : 78.53
Publié le 20.07.2022