Responding to the decision by a French court to sentence a police officer who assaulted Tom Ciotkowski, a British volunteer who was supporting asylum seekers in Calais in 2018, and then made false statements against him, Katia Roux Amnesty International Advocacy France’s, said:
“This is an important decision in a case that has become emblematic of the attacks by police on asylum seekers and the human rights defenders who support them.
“This prosecution which was only successful due to video evidence and determination of a small group of campaigners, will hopefully send a clear signal that the impunity for police violence will no longer be tolerated.
Tom Ciotkowski said:
“It has been a long and stressful three years, but I am pleased to see the police being held to account for their actions. If police abuses are left unchecked and unpunished the whole system rots from within. It is vital that such instances are able to be recorded and brought to light.”
“I dread to think what might have happened if myself and others were not able to film the incident. I could very well be the one being convicted today. I hope this decision contributes to a rethink of the hostile environment policy towards asylum seekers in Calais and elsewhere and that a new, compassionate approach is taken to the people struggling there and those trying to help them.”
Volunteer Tom Ciotkowski was pushed violently by police in 2018, charged with contempt and assault after he recorded a French police officer 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 in June 2019.
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