France: Prosecution of police officer who assaulted British volunteer helping refugees in Calais welcomed

© Amnesty International/Imogen Putler

Tom Ciotkowski pushed violently by police after recording a French police officer reportedly pushing another volunteer in Calais in 2018

Instead of being treated as a victim of police violence, he was charged with contempt and assault and dragged through the courts on trumped up charges until he was finally acquitted last year

Three police officers face prosecution for assault and false statement

‘With police abuses and the lack of justice for these currently in the spotlight, the news that these three policemen will face prosecution is both timely and welcome’ - Nicolas Krameyer

Responding to the decision by French authorities to prosecute three police officers, one of whom assaulted a British volunteer Tom Ciotkowski while he was documenting police abuse against refugees in Calais in 2018, Nicolas Krameyer, Amnesty International France’s Programme Manager, said:

“With police abuses and the lack of justice for these currently in the spotlight, the news that these three policemen will face prosecution is both timely and welcome.

“Before his acquittal, Tom’s case was emblematic of the attacks by police on migrants and refugees and the human rights defenders who support them. Now it will become a test case for how far the authorities are prepared to go to end abuses against human rights defenders.

“This prosecution is the exception, not the rule and was only made possible by the determination of [Tom and] a small group of campaigners who were able to put out video evidence of the assault.

“With our screens currently filled with graphic images of excessive force used by police in France and around the world, this decision is a timely reminder that filming police abuses can be one of the strongest ways to finally help end the impunity that so many have taken for granted for so long.”

Documenting police abuse

Tom Ciotkowski, from Stratford upon Avon, was pushed violently by police after he recorded a French police officer reportedly pushing another volunteer in Calais in 2018.

Instead of being treated as a victim of police violence, he was charged with contempt and assault and dragged through the courts on trumped up charges until he was finally acquitted last year.

His original prosecution reflected a wider European trend of criminalising acts of solidarity, as a way of discouraging people from standing up in defence of the rights of migrants and refugees. An Amnesty report this year highlighted how police and prosecutors are abusing already flawed anti-smuggling laws and counter-terrorism measures to target human rights defenders who help vulnerable people.

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