The responsibility of the public authorities is “engaged” during the demonstration of March 25 in Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres) against the mega-basins, ensures Monday July 10 a report by observers of the League of Human Rights ( LDH). Its authors point to a “deliberate desire not to provide assistance as soon as possible”.
“The political will was clear: the Sainte-Soline demonstration should not take place, and anyone who defied the prefectural authorization exposed themselves to risks for their physical and moral integrity”, underline several observatories of public freedoms and police practices, which the LDH is on the initiative with the Syndicate of lawyers of France (SAF) and the Copernic Foundation.
5,000 tear gas canisters
The 150-page report is based on the field work of observers present during the mobilization, which had given rise to violent clashes between demonstrators and the police.
“The priority given to law enforcement issues over any other consideration has revealed its absurdity during the obstructions to relief”, assures the authors in their conclusions. “The responsibility of the public authorities and in particular of the State is clearly engaged because of the lack of anticipation, then the deliberate will not to provide assistance as soon as possible, this in addition to the criminal responsibilities linked to the consequences of a possible non-assistance to anyone in danger, ”they add.
The demonstration had gathered 6,000 to 8,000 people according to the authorities, 30,000 according to the organizers. The latter reported 200 injuries, including 40 serious, on the demonstrators’ side. According to official figures, 5,015 tear gas canisters were fired, or about one per second. The gendarmerie also used 89 disencirclement grenades, 40 deflagrating devices and 81 LBD shots.
Response deemed proportionate
In two reports, the prefecture and the gendarmerie defended a targeted and proportionate response to 800 to 1,000 “radical” demonstrators. On the contrary, observers denounce the “numerous injuries caused by the disproportionate and on several occasions unnecessary use of weapons” by the police. Among them, two seriously injured demonstrators, Serge D. and Mickaël B., during clashes with the police, spent several weeks in a coma.
The delay in taking charge of Serge D. in Sainte-Soline is denounced by the organizers and observers, for whom the authorities have hindered the intervention of the emergency services. “The latter went to the injured and could not confirm the diagnosis until 46 minutes after the first call for help”, underlines the report. The authorities justify the delay in the intervention of the emergency services by the need for the gendarmes to ensure their safety.