According to media reports, French police will still be allowed to use chokeholds to carry out arrests until alternative methods are put in place in September.
An internal note by the director-general of the national police reportedly stated that chokehold arrests could still be used “in a measured way and with discernment,” until September 1, when a working group is expected to roll out alternative methods for arresting suspects.
The note, sent out on Monday, means that a decision to ban the method, announced last week by embattled Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, will not take effect immediately. Castaner made the decision amid increasing protests in France over allegations of police brutality and racial discrimination, fueled by domestic cases and worldwide outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Castaner’s decision angered police unions and he had to clarify the ban after meeting with them on Friday. He stated that “in case of physical confrontation with individuals who resist,” police officers can use the chokehold method to bring the suspect down to the ground and handcuff them — but can’t apply pressure on the neck while the suspect is on the ground.
The chokehold ban was above all a symbolic gesture to calm public discontent rather than a major overhaul of policing, given that police brutality complaints in France have mainly concerned ethnic profiling, the use of flash-balls against protesters and aggressive physical handling of suspects.
Castaner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.