France plans punishment for unofficial protests

8 Jan 19

France is considering plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests, as the violent “yellow vest” demonstrations continue, the country’s prime minister has said.

Speaking on Monday, after the latest wave of protests where gates to a government office were smashed down, Edouard Phillippe said the government would introduce tough sanctions on people who take part in unofficial protests.

The government wants to draw up new legislation banning protests and clamping down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations.

Phillippe told TFI television: “We need to preserve the right to demonstrate in France and we must sanction those who break the law.

“That’s why the government favours updating the law in order to sanction those who do not respect this obligation to declare protests, those who take part in undeclared protests, those who arrive at protests with balaclavas.”

The protests began on 17 November, initially against planned fuel tax hikes, when people wearing high-visibility vests took to the streets, giving them the nick name “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests).

Although the government announced it would scrap the fuel tax hikes, the demonstrations continued over dissatisfaction with president Emmanuel Macron and his government.

A poll last week revealed three-quarters of French people are unhappy with the actions taken by Macron’s government to boost household incomes.

Phillippe also said those who have caused disruption and destruction to Paris and other major cities in France would be made to pay for the damage.

In the latest protests last weekend, demonstrators fought riot police and cars and motorbikes were burnt. Since the turmoil began at least six people have died and more than 1,400 have been injured.


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