A number of French NGO’s has launched a group action on Wednesday against the State, calling on the government to put an end to the “discriminatory identity checks” by the police.
The provision by the law allows for modernizing the justice of the 21st century which was passed in 2016. It comes after a succession of cases which mixes police violence and accusations of racism in the police. It also includes the beating of Michel Zecler a black music producer.
The move also coincides with the launch of the “Beauvau de la sécurité”, a major national consultation on the French police which was announced by President Emmanuel Macron a few days after this assault with a resounding echo in France.
Antoine Lyon-Caen, the lawyer who prepared the formal notice said, “It is not a bad coincidence,” recalling President Macron’s late last year’s remarks on the face checks.
“Today when we have a skin colour that is not white, we are much more controlled. We are identified as a problem factor and it is unbearable”, President Macron said at the time.
The notice seeks response from Prime Minister Jean Castex, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Keeper of the Seals Éric Dupond-Moretti. It gives them four months to react to requests from six different NGOs, including Amnesty International France and Human Rights Watch.
The report demand a modification of the code of penal procedure to “explicitly prohibit discrimination in identity checks,” the “creation of an effective and independent complaint mechanism” or “the provision of any person checked. proof of control,” based on the receipt model.
According to Antoine Lyon-Caen, if at the end of the period allowed in the notice, the organizations did not receive a satisfying response they “can take legal action and the judges can order the government to take practical measures to put an end to this discrimination.”
The notice for action, which is a 350-page document, contains testimonies from victims collected in nine cities (Paris, Rennes, Beauvais, Lorient, Châtellerault, Eybens, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille) and also from some police officers “who tell of the pointlessness of controls ”And explain the facies controls”
The document also contains various investigations and legal proceedings which have made it possible to compile and certify the reality of the discrimination.
A study carried out in Paris in 2009 by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) showed that in France, people perceived as “black” and “Arab” are respectively checked six and eight times more than those perceived as “white”.
In January 2017, a report by the Defender of Rights shows that a “young man perceived as black or Arab, has 20 times higher probability” of being controlled than the rest of the population.
Then in November 2016, the Court of Cassation condemned the State for “facial” identity checks. Last October, the same Court condemned the State for “serious faults,” in checking people identities of unjustified minors, without however retaining the discrimination.