Annual Report: France 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: France 2010

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  • Ali Ziri, a 69-year-old Algerian man, died following his arrest in Argenteuil on 9 June. He was travelling in a friend's car when the two men were stopped by police. Ali Ziri's friend, Arezki Kerfali, said that they were beaten by the police officers, both at the scene and on the way to the police station. The two men were subsequently taken to hospital, where Ali Ziri died. One month later the Public Prosecutor closed the inquiry into his death stating that, on the basis of investigations conducted by the Argenteuil police, there was no evidence of ill-treatment. Arezki Kerfali was hospitalized for two days as a result of his injuries and subsequently charged with insulting a police officer. Following demands from Ali Ziri's family, an investigating judge was appointed to the case. The judge ordered a second autopsy to be conducted by the Paris Medico-Legal Institute (Institut médico-légal de Paris, IML). It recorded multiple bruising on Ali Ziri's body and stated that his probable cause of death was positional asphyxia. In October, the Public Prosecutor requested further investigation into charges of involuntary homicide. The police officers concerned remained on active duty at the end of the year.
  • In July, experts from the IML concluded their examination of the hospital records of Abou Bakari Tandia, who died after sustaining fatal injuries while in police custody in January 2005. Their report stated that he had died after being shaken violently and that police testimony alleging that he had thrown himself against a wall was contradicted by the medical evidence. The hospital records, along with other important evidence, had been "lost" for several years and were only submitted to the investigating judge in January. Although the prosecutor asked for further investigation to be carried out regarding Abou Bakari Tandia's death, no action had been taken by the investigating judge at the end of the year.
  • In October, the Court of Appeal in Aix-en-Provence ordered judges investigating the death of Abdelhakim Ajimi to question two police officers on suspicion of involuntary homicide, and failing to assist a person in danger in the case of one of them. In March, five other police officers had been questioned on suspicion of failing to assist Abdelhakim Ajimi. An autopsy report stated that Abdelhakim Ajimi had suffocated as a result of the restraint techniques used on him by police officers in May 2008. The investigation was ongoing at the end of the year.

On 15 June, the then Minister of Interior announced that the annual reports of the police force internal inspectorate would be made public. However, at the end of the year no such information was available on the national police website and only a summary of statistics was available on request.

In September, the Council of State suspended the use of electro-shock weapons by local police forces, ruling that they had been introduced without adequate training and safeguards. The weapons were introduced by government decree in September 2008. National police and gendarmes continued to use such weapons.

Migrants' rights, refugees and asylum-seekers

In May, the Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually Supportive Development pursued a reform which could restrict the role of the six NGOs nominated to work in migration detention centres. The NGO Cimade launched legal challenges against the measure due to concerns that it would limit their role to providing information only and prevent them from giving legal assistance to detained migrants. In November, the Council of State upheld the reform.

In September, the Minister of Immigration stated that 20 million euros had been secured to build a new migration detention centre in the French overseas territory of Mayotte. However, no timeline was given for its construction. Photographs had been published anonymously in December 2008 showing the severe overcrowding and poor hygiene inside the existing centre.