World Report 2013 - European Union: France
|Publisher||Human Rights Watch|
|Publication Date||31 January 2013|
|Cite as||Human Rights Watch, World Report 2013 - European Union: France, 31 January 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/510fb4eac.html [accessed 16 September 2014]|
A summer campaign to evict Roma camps and remove migrant Roma from France echoed a similar push in 2010, raising questions about pledges by Socialist President François Hollande, elected in June, to tackle discrimination.
By mid-September, an estimated 4,000 people had been forcibly evicted, and hundreds returned to Eastern Europe.
The UN special rapporteurs on housing, migrants' rights, minority rights, and racism issued a joint statement in August expressing concern over authorities' failure to provide alternative housing, the risk of collective expulsions, and stigmatization of Roma. The French government moved in September to ease restrictions on access to employment for Eastern Europeans, including Roma, and signed a new agreement with Romania on deportations providing for reintegration projects.
In September, the government backtracked on a proposal to introduce stop forms for identity checks – a way to improve police accountability and address persistent concerns about ethnic profiling – in the face of strong opposition from police unions. The rights ombudsman recommended reforms in October and legal rules on pat-downs during such checks. In June, France's highest criminal court ruled that police powers to ask individuals to prove their right to be in France, regardless of behavior, violated EU free movement norms.
The government moved to limit detention of children with their families pending deportation, after an ECtHR ruling in January against France for detaining two young children with their parents for two weeks in 2007. A July government circular clarified that detention of families with children remained possible if families do not respect the conditions of compulsory residence in a particular place or if one or more family members abscond.
In February, the ECtHR ruled in a case brought by a Sudanese asylum seeker that the fast-track asylum procedure, including lack of suspensive appeal, did not provide effective protection against refoulement.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) expressed concern in April about conditions and treatment in police and immigration detention, prisons, and psychiatric facilities, recommending further reforms to ensure that all suspects can access a lawyer from when they first enter police custody.
Parliament adopted a new sexual harassment law in late July, after the Constitutional Court struck down previous legislation for vagueness. The new law protects a broader range of situations beyond employment and introduces protections based on gender identity. In November the government tabled a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
In October, one man was killed and eleven arrested in multi-city raids following a mid-September grenade attack on a Jewish supermarket outside Paris. At this writing, parliament was examining draft legislation to criminalize acts of terrorism abroad by French citizens. The measure, first proposed by the previous administration after a man claiming to be inspired by al-Qaeda shot seven people in March – including three Jewish children and a rabbi – would allow prosecution for participating in terrorism training abroad.