World Report 2010 - France
|Publisher||Human Rights Watch|
|Publication Date||20 January 2010|
|Cite as||Human Rights Watch, World Report 2010 - France, 20 January 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b586cf25d.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
Events of 2009
A government-appointed committee in September released recommendations for reforming French criminal procedure. The committee recommended significant changes, notably elimination of the function of investigating judge, but failed to remedy insufficient safeguards against ill-treatment and impediments to an effective defense for terrorism suspects in police custody (with suspects held for up to six days with severely limited access to a lawyer). The French government is expected to use the committee's recommendations as a basis for legislation in 2010.
Tensions over Muslim veiling were heightened following President Nicolas Sarkozy's declaration that what he referred to as the burqa was not welcome on French territory and parliament's appointment of an ad hoc fact-finding committee in June to consider a possible public ban on face-covering veils. In June the European Court of Human Rights rejected as inadmissible complaints filed by four Muslim girls and two Sikh boys expelled from public schools in 2004 under a ban on religious headgear in school, once again failing to give proper weight to the religious freedom of non-Christian minorities.
The Paris Appeals Court overturned in February the 2007 terrorism convictions of five former Guantanamo Bay detainees after throwing out all evidence emanating from interrogations conducted at the US detention facility by French intelligence officers, citing a failure to disclose the evidence to the defense and other procedural irregularities.
French police dismantled a makeshift migrant camp in Calais in September, arresting nearly 300 people, including scores of unaccompanied children. All of those arrested were later released. In October France deported three Afghan men to Kabul on a joint charter flight with the UK.
Following its June review of France, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said it was "deeply concerned" about the situation of unaccompanied children held in airport waiting zones. Those arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport were routinely detained with adults and deported, including to countries they had merely transited. Children were unable to challenge effectively decisions that put them at risk. Those seeking protection as refugees faced obstacles to filing a claim and appealing negative decisions based on fast-track evaluations.