Annual Report: France 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: France 2013

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In December, the Minister of the Interior presented a new draft code of ethics for security forces which, for the first time, regulated identity checks and body searches. In September, he had opposed the idea of officially registering all identity checks in order to combat racial profiling. Several human rights organizations continued to document identity checks based on ethnic profiling.

A law aimed at prohibiting the concealment of the face remained in force. Such laws indirectly discriminate against Muslim women freely choosing to wear full face veils. In January the Senate adopted a bill aimed at prohibiting employees in private childcare facilities from wearing religious and cultural symbols and dress. A circular issued by the former Ministry of Education in 2011 remained in force, which already banned women wearing such forms of dress from taking part in school outings.

In August, a law on sexual harassment introduced “sexual identity” as a prohibited ground in anti-hate crime law and in legislation aimed at combating discrimination in the workplace.

On 5 October, the Constitutional Council revoked several provisions of a 1969 law on Travellers. It removed the requirement to be registered in a municipality for three years to be able to vote and to carry and periodically renew a “circulation notebook” for Travellers without a regular income. However, those with a regular income were still obliged to carry a new “circulation booklet”; all Travellers still had to register with municipal authorities; and they were not allowed to constitute more than 3% of the town's population.

On 7 November, the Council of Ministers adopted a bill on same-sex marriage, which was due to be examined by the National Assembly from January 2013.

Forced evictions

Camps and makeshift homes inhabited by Roma continued to be dismantled in forced evictions throughout the year. According to NGO estimates, 9,040 Roma were forcibly evicted throughout France in the first three quarters of 2012.

On 26 August, the government issued an inter-ministerial circular containing discretionary guidelines for Prefects on how to plan and carry out evictions and support the people targeted by them. However, international safeguards against forced evictions continued to be flouted at a local level when implementing expulsion orders.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

The fast-track procedure for asylum-seekers remained in place, although it did not adequately protect their fundamental rights, and they continued to be denied a suspensive right of appeal before the National Asylum Court.

On 26 March, the Council of State quashed the April 2011 decision of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) to add Albania and Kosovo to the list of safe countries of origin for asylum-seekers. On 3 October, the Council of State condemned OFPRA's lack of individual assessment in reviewing the applications of asylum-seekers whose fingerprints seemed to be voluntarily modified.

On 7 July, the government issued a circular which recommended that families of irregular migrants with children be placed under strict house arrest rather than in detention centres.

On 11 July, the UN Committee on Torture stopped the expulsion of a Somali woman detained in a “waiting zone” at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. Her asylum claim and appeal had been rejected within a week, although UNHCR, the Refugee Agency, opposes deportation to certain parts of Somalia.

In December, Parliament adopted a law amending the Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and the Asylum Law, which abolishes the so-called ‘'solidarity offence''. Under the law, supporting the irregular stay of a foreigner is no longer punishable with a fine or imprisonment, so long as the person providing the support receives no direct or indirect compensation.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

In December, France signed the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR.