Annual Report: France 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: France 2013

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French Republic

Head of state François Hollande (replaced Nicolas Sarkozy)

Head of government Jean-Marc Ayrault (replaced François Fillon)

Investigations into allegations of deaths in custody, torture and other ill-treatment by police remained ineffective and inadequate. Thousands of Roma were left homeless after being forcibly evicted from informal settlements. The fast-track procedure for

Deaths in custody

Concerns about the promptness, effectiveness and independence of investigations into cases of deaths in police custody remained. Investigations into four long-standing cases of death in custody were closed.

  • On 26 September, the examining magistrate concluded in the case of Abou Bakari Tandia that there was “no evidence to hold a police officer responsible in the process leading to the death of the victim”. Abou Bakari Tandia fell into a coma during the night of 5 to 6 December 2004, when he was being held in the police station of Courbevoie, and died on 24 January 2005. The police officer who performed the restraint technique believed to have put Abou Bakari Tandia into the coma was still in post at another police station at the end of the year. An appeal hearing was pending.
  • On 15 October, in the case of Ali Ziri, a 69-year-old Algerian man who died two days after being held in custody in the Argenteuil police station in June 2009, the judge of Pontoise concluded that “no acts of voluntary violence which may have directly or indirectly caused the death of Ali Ziri” were found. However, an autopsy of April 2011 had confirmed that Ali Ziri died as a result of the restraint techniques he was subjected to and repeated vomiting while held in custody. The police officers involved in the arrest and transportation of Ali Ziri and his friend Arezki Kerfali had never been questioned by the judge. An appeal hearing was pending.
  • Also on 15 October, the case of Mahamadou Maréga, an irregular migrant from Mali who died on 30 November 2010 after being shot twice by an electro-stun device during his violent arrest in Colombes, was closed by the examining magistrate . On 4 May, the Defender of Rights demanded disciplinary proceedings against the law enforcement officials involved, who he considered to have made disproportionate use of their stun devices. An appeal hearing was pending.
  • In December, the case of Mohamed Boukrourou, who died in a police van on 12 November 2009, was dismissed. An appeal of that decision remained pending. At the end of the year, the four police officers involved in his arrest in Valentigney were reportedly still in office and had not faced disciplinary proceedings.

Investigations proceeded in other cases.

  • On 24 February, three of the seven policemen involved in the death of Abdelhakim Ajimi during his arrest on 9 May 2008 were given suspended custodial sentences of six, 18 and 24 months respectively by the Grasse Criminal Court. Amnesty International expressed concern that these sentences did not match the gravity of the offence committed. The three policemen appealed the decision. Four others implicated in the incident were acquitted.
  • Little progress was made in the investigation of Lamine Dieng's death during his arrest on 17 June 2007 in Paris. Lamine Dieng had been restrained by police officers on the street and then in a police vehicle, where he lost consciousness and died of mechanical asphyxia.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The Criminal Code continued to lack a definition of torture in line with international standards. There was a lack of prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. On 19 April, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture called for “zero tolerance” of police ill-treatment and for limiting the use of electro-stun devices.

Discrimination

Ethnic and religious minorities, as well as LGBTI people, continued to experience discrimination.