As the French Senate prepares to debate a law tomorrow “to strengthen respect for the principles of the Republic”, Amnesty International is calling for the many problematic provisions of the bill to be deleted or amended. The proposed legislation would give the French authorities new powers to refuse or withdraw funds from certain organizations. Amid stigmatizing rhetoric about Muslims and Islam, there are serious concerns that the law will be applied in a discriminatory manner.
This bill is widely open to abuse and threatens the very freedoms that the French authorities claim to defend.
Marco Perolini, Europe researcher at Amnesty International, said:
“This bill would be a serious attack on rights and freedoms in France. This would allow the public authorities to fund only organizations that sign a “republican engagement contract” – a loosely defined concept, widely open to abuse and threatening the very freedoms of expression and association that the French authorities claim to defend.
Several elements of the bill raise concerns about France’s obligations to respect the rights to freedom of association and expression and the principle of non-discrimination. Amnesty International calls on France to allocate funds in a non-discriminatory manner and to ensure that all organizations, including those which criticize government policies and fight against discrimination, have the same opportunity to receive funding.
“On many occasions, the French authorities have used the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid reason
In its statement setting out the justification for the bill, the government mentions the need to strengthen an insufficient legal arsenal to fight against “radical Islam”.
“Time and time again, we have seen the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without a valid reason, which risks leading to discrimination in their enforcement against Muslims and other minority groups. This stigma must end, ”said Marco Perolini.