France has been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic since February 2020 and its population was under strict lockdown from March 17th until May 10th. While the health measures adopted apply to all people living in the French territory, it is clear that their effects were all the more felt by the most precarious individuals and communities, especially during the lockdown : people living in slums, squats or insalubrious housing, homeless people, undocumented people, and people with precarious jobs. For them, lockdown compliance represented a real obstacle to decent living conditions. Loss of income, lack of access to food, hygiene, health, education, etc. Noting the late and insufficient response of the public authorities, civil society organisations doubled their efforts, without being able to make up for the severity of the social distress linked to the pandemic. In addition to accelerating pre-existing inequalities, the current context fuelled social tensions.
This crisis also increased the divide between French citizens and their representatives, who were considered to have little credibility, even though the lockdown rules were widely respected. In this context, the monitoring role of organisations defending rights and freedoms was strengthened. Indeed, the state of health emergency served as a justification for repressive measures on the part of the government, as well as a pretext for the proliferation of abuses and violence on the part of the law enforcement authorities.