How French police are laying down the law to the Republic

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The French Republic should not be subject to the demands of the police. Yet this democratic principle is under challenge from the demonstration held by police officers on Wednesday, May 19th. Organisers of the protest in front of the National Assembly in Paris, which was supported by members of the current government, the far right and the two historic parties of the Left, are demanding minimum sentences for anyone found guilty of attacks on police officers. This undermines one of the key principles of the French Republic, that the police force is there to serve all citizens, and not to seek law changes in its own interest or the interests of the government of the day, argue Mediapart's publishing editor Edwy Plenel and political correspondent Ellen Salvi in this op-ed article.

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On Wednesday May 19th 2021 one of the articles of the first Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was rendered null and void in the very country where it was first proclaimed in 1789. Article 12 reads: “To guarantee the Rights of Man and of the Citizen a public force is necessary; this force is therefore established for the benefit of all, and not for the particular use of those to whom it is entrusted.”