Macron to increase oversight of police after brutality and racism claims

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French President Emmanuel Macron will this week announce plans to boost oversight of the police, a presidential source said on Monday, following repeated allegations of brutality and racism in the force.

Macron will unveil a wide-ranging reform of the police in a speech Tuesday capping months of discussions on how to improve relations between the force and communities as well as officers' working conditions, said the official, who asked not to be named.

The trigger for the consultations was a video showing four white officers beating up an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio in November last year.

The attack on Michel Zecler caused widespread outrage and amplified complaints by French Black Lives Matter activists about the rough tactics used against minorities, particularly black and Arab men.

The presidential source said that Macron's proposals would include creating a mechanism allowing "independent oversight" of the police.

In the speech Tuesday, Macron would also announce plans to "invest massively" in the police in return for "radical changes" in how they protect citizens.

One of the key criticisms of policing in France is that the country does not have an independent police watchdog.

The Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale (IGPN), which currently hears complaints, is composed mostly of police officers and its head is appointed by the interior minister, who is in charge of the police.

Macron's aides said the new oversight mechanism would be "external" to the IGPN.

In April he suggested creating a parliamentary delegation to hear complaints.

In June 2020, thousands of French people took part in the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of black American George Floyd at the hands of US police.

The protesters said Floyd's death echoed incidents in France, where several people have died or been seriously injured in custody or while being arrested.

Macron has denied a problem of institutional racism in the police but admitted to a problem of racial profiling.

"When you have a skin colour that is not white, you are stopped much more (by police). You are identified as a problem factor," he told Brut video news portal in December.

The police complain that they are overworked and are themselves increasingly coming under attack from violent demonstrators and crime gangs.

(AFP)

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