'French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said that the government will crack down on unauthorized protests and toughen punishment for rioting in the wake of anti-government Yellow Vest demonstrations which began in November.
The new measures will significantly toughen punishment for people who participate in riots, Philippe said, while adding that it was still “necessary to preserve the freedom” to demonstrate in France. Those who want to protest peacefully should not be punished, he said.
The announcement comes as part of new “public order” measures unveiled by the government after the Yellow Vest protests resulted in violence against police officers and government buildings.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 7, 2019
Philippe’s office said in a statement on Monday that the government would take “a very firm stance” against the “continued unacceptable violence across the country.”
Philippe also told channel TF1 that a major police force of 80,000 will be deployed in France next Saturday, including 5,000 in Paris. Over 1,000 people have already been charged in connection with the protests and rioting, he added.
“Over 1,000 sentences have been given in total. Around 5,600 people have been detained since the beginning of the [Yellow Vest] movement,” Philippe said.
“We cannot accept that some people take advantage of these demonstrations to break, to burn,” he stressed.'
Read more: French PM says new, tougher laws on unauthorized protests coming in wake of Yellow Vest clashes