Can the repression of social movements in France be constitutive of crime against humanity: Case study of the Gilets Jaunes Movement?

Document Type : Review Article




This paper examines the repression of social movements in France. More specifically, it focuses on the “Gilets Jaunes” movement between 2018 and 2019. Since November 2018, at least 2448 people have been injured in the context of political demonstrations, among which 30 people lost an eye, 5 a hand and 346 suffered various head injuries. This increase in the violence of the repression of social movements in France is not new but it is the first time it happens on such a large scale. The repression also led to a very high number of judicial sentences. 10 000 people were taken into police custody between November 2018 and June 2019 and 3100 were convicted. The goal is to determine whether the law enforcement strategy could fall under the category of crime against humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In particular, this paper will look at the mass arrest before demonstrations and the use of non-lethal weapons and the injuries caused. The analysis is interesting because massive repression of social movements in Europe with that level of violence had not been seen in the last 30 years. Moreover, the right to freedom of expression and the right to protest are especially important in today’s context where journalist and activist are still being targeted by oppressive regimes for standing up against them. It is worrying than in a country that is politically stable, such large scale repression can happen with complete impunity and a general lack of awareness outside of the French borders.


Main Subjects