France

On the website ‘Stop le Contrôle au Faciès’, victims of ethnic profiling in France can report their cases, along with the exact circumstances of the police check. In this manner, incidents are registered and evaluated. A class-action lawsuit can be brought if necessary.

In October 2005, two young French citizens hid in an electrical distribution substation while running from a police check, and died of electrocution. Subsequent to this incident, there were violent riots in the suburbs of Paris and in other French cities. The riots were provoked not only by the social exclusion of French youth of migrant origin, but also by visible structural racism, such as the disproportionate amount of identity checks performed on black or Arab youth.

In France, identity checks based only or primarily on external characteristics are prohibited by the French police code. Nevertheless, identity checks involving young French men ascribed as belonging to an ethnic minority are an everyday occurrence. A study by the Open Society Justice Initiative in co-operation with the French National Centre for Scientific Research shows that, in Paris railway stations and transport hubs, youth with an Arab background are 7.5 times more likely, and black French citizens 6 times more likely, than white French, to be subject to an identity check. More and more children, mostly boys, no older than thirteen, are being affected by these police checks. A Human Rights Watch study demonstrates that those affected are denounced in full public view and associated with criminal behaviour. Sometimes, they are also subject to racist insults. Networking between victims has resulted in increased public awareness of the issue. There is a website where those affected can share their experiences and register their cases.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011