Annual Report: France 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: France 2011

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  • On 17 May, the National Commission on Security Ethics (CNDS) called for disciplinary proceedings against the police officers who had allegedly used disproportionate force against Ali Ziri, a 69-year-old Algerian, following his arrest in Argenteuil on 9 June 2009. Ali Ziri had been travelling in his friend Arezki Kerfali's car when they were stopped by police. Arezki Kerfali said the police beat them, and both men were taken to hospital, where Ali Ziri died. Arezki Kerfali was charged with insulting a police officer and the hearing was scheduled to be held on 24 June, but was postponed pending a ruling on the case of Ali Ziri.
  • In March, the judge investigating the death of Abou Bakari Tandia, who died in January 2005 from injuries sustained in police custody, questioned three forensic doctors who issued a report in July 2009 which contradicted the police's version of events. The doctors found that there had been a row between Abou Bakari Tandia and the police officers involved in his detention, which further put into question their claim that his injuries were caused by him throwing himself against his cell wall. In November the judge questioned the police officers as witnesses to the events.
  • In September, the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal quashed the decision by the investigating judges to close the investigation against two police officers suspected of the involuntary homicide of Abdelhakim Ajimi, who died after being restrained by police during his arrest in May 2008. In April, the CNDS had recommended disciplinary proceedings against the police officers for disproportionate and unnecessary use of force.
  • Over a year after the launch of a criminal investigation into the "involuntary homicide" of Mohamed Boukrourou, the police officers involved in his arrest had not been questioned, and no disciplinary proceedings against them had been started. On 12 November 2009, four police officers had arrested Mohamed Boukrourou following an argument at his local pharmacy, handcuffed him and asked him to follow them. Witnesses stated that when he refused, the officers dragged him out and threw him into their van where he was beaten and kicked. Less than two hours later, he was dead. His family said that when they saw his body, his face was covered in bruises, his lip was split and his cheek was torn. Two forensic reports, one carried out at the request of the public prosecutor in November 2009 and a second one at the request of his family in June 2010, noted injuries on his body that could have been caused by blows and stated heart failure as the probable cause of death. Both requested further medical examinations to clarify the circumstances of his death, the results of which were pending at the end of the year. The CNDS and the National Police General Inspectorate had also opened investigations in November 2009 and December 2009 respectively, both ongoing.

Guantánamo Bay detainees

  • On 26 February, the Cassation Court ordered the retrial for terrorism-related offences of five French nationals who had been detained in Guantánamo Bay and transferred to France in 2004 and 2005. In February 2009, the Paris Court of Appeal overturned a conviction by the Paris Criminal Court for "criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise" because it had illegally used information - provided by the French intelligence services - obtained during interrogation while the men were detained at Guantánamo Bay.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In July, the Council of State partly annulled the decision by the Board of the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons which qualified 17 countries as "safe" when examining asylum applications. Claims submitted by asylum-seekers from "safe" countries are examined under an accelerated procedure, under which asylum-seekers can be forcibly returned without their appeal being examined. The Council of State decided that Armenia, Madagascar and Turkey did not fulfil the necessary human rights criteria to be on the list of "safe" countries, and considered Mali to be safe for men but not for women.