France: Confederation Paysanne and CETIM echo UN Expert group’s concern about criminalization of social movements by the French State.

Press Release | by Confédération paysanne and CETIM | Bagnolet, 19 June 2023

UN EXPERTS’ COMMUNIQUE: Will the rights of trade unions and social and environmental movements be respected by the French government?

On 15 June 2023, seven independent experts from the United Nations expressed their concerni at allegations of excessive use of force during the recent demonstrations against pension reform and mega-water basin projects in France.

“Lack of restraint in the use of force against members of civil society who are peacefully demanding their participation in decision-making processes concerning their future, access to natural resources, protection of human rights, dignity and equality, would not only be anti-democratic, but deeply worrying for the rule of law”, the experts said.

The Confédération Paysanne and CETIM welcome this position and call on the French government to heed these warnings. The concerns expressed are in line with those we voiced in our submission to the UN experts on the occasion of the International Day of Peasant Struggles (17 April). Indeed, mega-basin projects are being carried out at the expense of the right to water of all peasants in the territories because they reinforce the problem of drought and the increasing scarcity of access to water. Peasant organizations and other sectors of civil society have mobilized to question these projects and demand respect for human and environmental rights, suffering unprecedented repression.

This communique from the UN experts has a very particular resonance, given that mobilizations are continuing around water and land issues in many areas, and at a time when the criminalization and repression of these mobilizations and of trade unions and social and environmental movements are still the order of the day.

Human rights issues, and more specifically the rights to water, food, freedom of expression and demonstration, cannot be scorned and repressed in this way. We cannot accept the threats to dissolve the Soulèvements de la Terre movement. In view of the above, we urge the French authorities to honour their international human rights commitments, as recalled by the UN experts.

The Confédération Paysanne is continuing its trade union action to obtain a moratorium on mega-basin projects and for the establishment of a dialogue on the management and sharing of water in France, a sine qua non for the respect of human rights.

Also Read: The struggle against mega-basins is a struggle for life

i[1]Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, Rapporteur spécial sur les droits à la liberté de réunion pacifique et d’association ; Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Rapporteur spécial sur les droits de l’homme à l’eau potable et à l’assainissement ; David R. Boyd, Rapporteur spécial sur les droits de l’homme et de l’environnement ; Michael Fakhri, Rapporteur spécial sur le droit à l’alimentation ; Mary Lawlor, Rapporteuse spéciale sur les défenseurs des droits de l’homme ; Irene Khan, Rapporteuse spéciale sur la liberté d’opinion et d’expression, et Michel Forst, Rapporteur spécial sur la protection des défenseurs de l’environnement dans le cadre de la Convention d’Aarhus.