January 7, 2021

France: RSF files third complaint against Paris police prefect

(photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/ AFP).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has filed yet another complaint against the prefect of the Paris police, Didier Lallement, for aggravated voluntary violence against journalists. This time the victim is a freelance photo-journalist who was covering a “March for Freedom” demonstration in Paris on 5 December.

Filed on 7 January jointly with the journalist concerned, who often works for a French news agency, the complaint accuses Lallement and unidentified police officers of aggravated voluntary violence. The journalist does not want to be named for fear of police reprisals when she covers future protests.


While covering the 5 December demonstration against the government’s controversial “global security” bill on Avenue Gambetta, she retreated with the protesters when the police began to charge. Nonetheless, although her press armband was clearly visible, a stingball grenade landed at her feet and then a flashball round fired from less than 10 metres away hit her right forearm, causing an enormous bruise and paraesthesia in her hand. 

She went to a hospital where she was X-rayed because of the pain, which required monitoring by a doctor. She also reported the violence to the National Police General Inspectorate (IGPN), which investigates misconduct within the police. It was the third time she has been hit by a flashball round in the past two years.


The repeated violence against journalists covering protests in France and the way press freedom violations are becoming an almost routine occurrence are cause for concern,” said Pavol Szalai, the head of RSF’s European Union desk. “This latest incident confirms that Prefect Lallement must held to account for the law enforcement decisions that resulted in this attack.


This is the third time in two months that RSF has filed a complaint against Lallement and unidentified police officers for aggravated voluntary violence against reporters and obstruction of the exercise of freedom of expression. In the complaint filed on 7 December, the victim was Ameer Al Halbi, a photo-journalist who received a deliberate blow to the face from a police baton while covering one of the previous protests against the “global security” bill. In the complaint filed on 27 November, the victims were three journalists who were attacked while covering the forcible evacuation of a migrant tent camp on Place de la République.


France is ranked 34th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index