France: Prosecution of police who assaulted Calais camp volunteer sends message against impunity

Responding to the decision by French authorities to prosecute the three police officers, one of whom assaulted a British human rights defender, Tom Ciotkowski, while he was documenting police abuse against refugees in Calais in 2018, Nicolas Krameyer, Amnesty International France’s Programme Manager, said:

“With police abuses and the lack of justice for these currently in the spotlight, the news that these three policemen will face prosecution is both timely and welcome.

With police abuses and the lack of justice for these currently in the spotlight, the news that these three policemen will face prosecution is both timely and welcome
Nicolas Krameyer, Amnesty International France

“Before his acquittal, Tom’s case was emblematic of the attacks by police on migrants and refugees and the human rights defenders who support them. Now it will become a test case for how far the authorities are prepared to go to end abuses against human rights defenders.

“This prosecution is the exception, not the rule and was only made possible by the determination of [Tom and] a small group of campaigners who were able to put out video evidence of the assault. With our screens currently filled with graphic images of excessive force used by police in France and around the world, this decision is a timely reminder that filming police abuses can be one of the strongest ways to finally help end the impunity that so many have taken for granted for so long.”

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BACKGROUND

Volunteer Tom Ciotkowski was pushed violently by police in 2018, charged with contempt and assault after he recorded a French police officer reportedly pushing another volunteer in Calais in 2018. Instead of being treated as a victim of police violence, he was dragged through the courts on trumped up charges until he was finally acquitted last year.

His original prosecution reflected a wider European trend of criminalizing acts of solidarity, as a way of discouraging people from standing up in defense of the rights of migrants and refugees.

For more information see Amnesty’s the criminalization of solidarity report here https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur01/1828/2020/en/0