France criticised at UN over police violence, racism

The UN’s Human Rights Council calls on France to reduce police violence and take steps to address racism.

A French police officer shows how to arrest a suspect during national security day in Nice, France.[File: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard]
A French police officer demonstrates how to arrest a suspect in Nice, France [File: Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

France has been criticised by the United Nations Human Rights Council for increased police violence, including against protesters, as widespread Labour Day demonstrations take over the country.

France must “take measures to, in a transparent manner, address allegations regarding excessive use of force by police and gendarmerie against protesters during demonstrations”, Sweden’s representative told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, when France marks its annual Labour Day.

Besides the recent tensions between police forces and demonstrators at the country’s pension-reform protests, rights groups have also previously pointed out the extensive scale of police violence in France during the 2018 “gilets jaunes” yellow vests protests and the 2022 Champions League finals, and have called on Paris to address the issue.

At the Geneva-based UN Council on Monday, Russia’s representative Kristina Sukacheva, whose country has also been criticised for police violence, said that “the harsh and sometimes violent measures aimed at dispersing peaceful citizens” in France is a call for concern.

Paris was also called out for religious intolerance, attacks against migrants and racial profiling by several countries at the UN Council as members carried out France’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a process all 193 UN countries must undergo every four years.

The US representative at the UN Council, Kelly Billingsley, said her country wanted Paris to “expand efforts to counter crimes and threats of violence motivated by religious hatred such as antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate, including cases of harassment, vandalism, and assault”.

Meanwhile, China urged France to “stop measures that violate rights of migrants” and Brazil and Japan highlighted the importance of stopping “racial profiling by security forces”.

Sabrine Balim, a judicial adviser with the French interior ministry, told the UN Council that France “condemns any form of racial profiling” and said that force used by police was “strictly supervised, controlled, and in the case of erroneous use, sanctioned”.

Source: News Agencies