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EuropeReligious discrimination and police violence… France criticized at the UN

Religious discrimination and police violence… France criticized at the UN

Several countries deplored on Monday religious discrimination and police violence during the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, May 1

The human rights situation in France has be reviewed for the fourth time, as part of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Attacks against migrants, racial profiling, police violence… The UN examined the human rights situation in the country for more than three hours. A large number of countries, including the United States but also Tunisia, called on France to do more to combat violence and racial discrimination.

“We recommend that France step up its efforts to combat religiously motivated crimes and threats of violence such as anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred,” said U.S. Representative Kelly Billingsley. Brazil, along with Japan, deplored “racial profiling by security forces” and South Africa called on France to “take steps to ensure impartial investigations by bodies outside the police in all cases of racist incidents involving police officers.

Several states also urged France to work to defend women’s rights, with some, such as Spain and the United Kingdom, focusing on domestic violence. Other countries emphasized the rights of Muslim women, such as Malaysia, which called on France to “quickly” amend laws prohibiting them from covering their faces in public spaces.

The French delegation’s Minister for Equality between Women and Men and Diversity compared racism and anti-Semitism to “a poison for the Republic,” but she did not take up every criticism.

Police violence

Police violence during operations at demonstrations was noted by several delegations, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg. Liechtenstein called for an independent investigation into these excesses, and Malaysia wants those responsible “to be punished”.

Law enforcement agencies were also criticized for profiling during the various controls.
During the response session, the French delegation maintained that “the use of force” was “strictly controlled (…) and, in the event of misconduct, sanctioned”. In addition, it recalled that members of the police force were obliged to wear an individual identification number “in order to ensure the visibility and traceability of their actions”. An obligation not always respected and the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin demanded that it be worn “in all circumstances”.

Concerns for the Olympic Games

Slovakia has asked that “the surveillance measures introduced by the law on the Olympic Games respect the principles of necessity and proportionality. This text, voted last month by the Parliament, contains an important security component, including the use of algorithmic video surveillance, raising concerns.

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