Human Rights Watch said in a report that the French police were “too broad” powers “to conduct discriminatory and abusive controls on blacks and Arabs, boys and men,” leaving too much room for arbitrary and biased decisions.
“There is sufficient evidence that the identity checks in France to drive a deep and sharp divide between communities and the police, while doing virtually nothing to prevent or detect crime,” HRW France director Bénédicte Jeannerod said.
The report comes as France is reeling from allegations of institutionalised racism in the ranks of the police, a charge that was violently rejected by the police forces who say that the problems are individual, members of the security forces.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has conceded in a national address Sunday that France had to combat the fact that ” the name, the address, the color of the skin can affect a person’s chances in life.
But Macron has defended France is under fire from the police forces, saying they ” deserve the support of the public and the gratitude of the nation for their work. ”
Tuesday that his government backtracked on the prohibition of the use of chokeholds by police after a backlash by the police unions, who has demonstrated all over France, and threw their handcuffs in protest.
HRW report based on interviews with 90 men and boys belonging to minority groups, in Paris, Grenoble, Strasbourg and Lille, said the stop-and-search checks ” often involved invasive and humiliating body pat-down. ”
44-page document includes 12 years with Koffi, who says that his class has been subjected to an identity check in front of their school in Bobigny, a disadvantaged neighbourhood in the north-east of Paris as they were leaving on an excursion to the famous Louvre museum.
He said that three police officers searched their bags.
“They put their hands in my pockets. They spread my legs and touched my genitals, ” Koffi said.
Children as young as 10 years old are targeted, the HRW report said.
There are no official statistics about the race profiles of people arrested by the police, in 1978, French law prohibits the collection of data on race, ethnic origin or political or religious opinions.