Amnesty calls for protecting rights of Kanak people in French overseas territory of New Caledonia amid unrest

By Anadolu Agency

Amnesty International has called on French authorities to respect the rights of the indigenous Kanak people amid unrest in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia.

“The state of emergency declared by the French government and the deployment of the French army, coupled with a ban on the social media app TikTok, must not be misused to restrict people’s human rights,” Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific researcher, stated.

Noting the fatalities during the unrest, Schuetze said: “It is imperative that French police and gendarmes only use force as reasonably necessary and prioritize protecting the right to life.”

She said that banning TikTok is a “disproportionate” measure that would violate freedom of expression, adding it could set a precedent for other governments worldwide to justify shutdowns in reaction to public protests.

“French authorities must uphold the rights of the Indigenous Kanak people and the right to peaceful expression and assembly without discrimination. People calling for independence should be able to express their views peacefully,” Schuetze said.

At least six people have been killed in the unrest and hundreds arrested since Monday. Protests erupted after the French National Assembly adopted constitutional reform on voting rules. The reform will give French nationals, who have lived on the island for at least 10 years, the right to vote in local elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of emergency in the archipelago on Wednesday and deployed army personnel to the region.