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Paris police under fire for forcing migrants from tent camp

Paris police are under government orders to explain themselves after officers were filmed tossing migrants out of tents while evacuating a makeshift camp in the French capital.

Aid groups were working on Tuesday to find temporary lodging for a few hundred migrants forcibly removed from the short-lived camp on the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris on Monday night.

Some images of the evacuation filmed by journalists and activists shocked even France’s tough-talking interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, who tweeted that he ordered the Paris police chief to provide a report Tuesday on what happened.

Police lifted tents with migrants inside, shaking them until they tumbled to the ground, and those who resisted were kicked or beaten with batons, according to the head of Doctors Without Borders in France, Corinne Torre.

Images shared online showed activists and local officials shouting and trying to block police from dislodging the migrants. Torre, who witnessed the evacuation, said several people sought treatment for injuries from her aid group, known by its French acronym MSF.

The Paris police headquarters said the Republique camp was evacuated because it was illegal and “invited” the migrants to seek lodging elsewhere offered by the state or aid groups.

Aid groups and Paris legislators said they set up the tents to call attention to the plight of hundreds of migrants who were kicked out of another camp in the shadow of France’s national stadium last week and have been sleeping in the streets since then for lack of other options.

Most are from Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea.

Some have been refused asylum while others are in bureaucratic limbo while they try to apply, Torre said.

The rough evacuation came the day before France’s parliament is set to vote Tuesday on a draft law meant to expand some police powers and provide greater protection to police. It notably makes it a crime to publish images of police officers with intent to cause them harm, a measure that has prompted repeated protests by civil liberties campaigners and media freedom groups.