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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Racisme :la France épinglée

by Émilie Rive

Racism : France Severely Criticized

Translated Saturday 26 June 2010, by Isabelle Métral

The European Commission against racism and intolerance published a damning report last week.

The European Commission doesn’t give only "plus" marks. According to its report (available at http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/Country-by-country/France/FRA-CbC-IV-2010-016-ENG.pdf) “the situation remains worrying". In particular, the concern is the way the police are perceived by members of ethnic minorities, owing to colour-biased police checks, anti- Muslim prejudices, or the tone of the public debate on immigration. The crucial and growing role of the HALDE (High Authority Against Discrimination and for Equality) in the struggle against racism is hailed by the Commission’s reporters who are apparently unaware of the government’s determination to dissolve it. The reporters invite the government to support HALDE, to consult it regularly, and to take its advice and recommendations into consideration; they also promise to re-examine the question in two years.

In addition, the report denounces “the discourse held by politicians, whether deputies or members of government” as “being an encouragement to racist acts and especially xenophobia.” They exhort the authorities to take measures against all discriminatory practices on the part of the police, “including ethnic profiling” by making it outright illegal, and by controlling police activities. They also warn the government against defining immigration policies by imposing targets for the number of immigrants to be expelled, and against compulsory measures like the newcomers’ integration contract which, they say, can turn out to be “counter-productive”.

Noting the persistence of, or indeed the increase in, discriminatory behaviour against gypsies and Romany, in verbal or physical attacks against persons, places of worship, cemeteries - whether Muslim or Jewish - the Commission recommends stepping up efforts and emergency measures to guarantee school enrolment for travellers’ and Romany children, and tracking down racist offences on the internet.

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