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Human Rights Committee reviews the report of France

Human Rights Committee 

10 July 2015

The Human Rights Committee today considered the fifth periodic report of France on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

François Alabrune, Director of Judicial Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, presenting the report, stated that France had for a long time been among leading States in Europe in the promotion and protection of civil and political rights.  Terrorism was one of the major challenges that Europe was currently facing.  In addressing that threat, France needed to adapt its legislation, while protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights, especially of the most vulnerable persons.   Strengthening of equality was at the forefront of French policy making.  The 2014 law on counter-terrorism measures prohibited French citizens going to engage in terrorist activities abroad from leaving France. 

In the ensuing dialogue, Committee Experts were particularly inquisitive about France’s efforts to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism, including judicial oversight of surveillance activities.   Experts also wanted to know more about police violence, overcrowding and the overall conditions of prisons, use of alternative weapons, treatment of Roma and expulsion of migrants.   Issues relating to France’s reservations to Article 27 of the Covenant, consequences of the nuclear tests in French Polynesia, combatting inter-ethnic and inter-racial tensions, and collecting statistics on ethnic and religious affiliations were also raised.

Ms. Alabrune, in closing remarks, thanked the Committee for closely listening to the delegation, for posing very targeted questions and for the constructive exchange.  The matters raised were very relevant, and in some cases perhaps not the most in-depth replies had been provided.  France was making progress and was determined to meet the requirements of the Covenant.  The Government was aware that it had to be vigilant, and was aware of the work that remained to be done.  In that regard, the Committee’s questions would be very helpful in guiding the State party’s actions.  France would be interested in submitting its next report in line with the simplified procedure.

Fabian Omar Salvioli, in his concluding remarks, said that it was important that the State party review its reservations, particularly in relation to Article 27.   Perhaps tailored responses could be prepared to ensure that various groups within the very diverse French nation could have their needs met.  The Committee stood totally in solidarity with all the victims of terrorism, but sometimes the measures taken contradicted the Covenant.  Judicial guarantees, effective access to defence counsel, and not obtaining confession under duress in third countries were all very important.  The State party was encouraged to adopt the simplified reporting procedure.

The delegation of France included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of the Overseas Territories, Service for European and International Affairs,  Directorate of the Penitentiary Administration, Council of State, Inter-ministerial Group to Combat Racism and Anti-Semitism, Ministerial Delegate for Accommodation and Access to Lodging, and the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 13 July at 10 a.m., to discuss progress reports of the Special Rapporteur on Follow-up to Concluding Observations and the Special Rapporteur on Follow-up to Views.


The fifth periodic report of France is available here: CCPR/C/FRA/5.

Presentation of the Report

FRANÇOIS ALABRUNE, Director for Judicial Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, said that the inter-ministerial character of the French delegation demonstrated the coordinated work which had been done on the preparation of the fifth periodic report.  France had for a long time been among leading States in Europe in the promotion and protection of civil and political rights, which could be seen at domestic and international levels.  Terrorism was one of the major challenges that Europe was currently facing.  In addressing that threat, France needed to adapt its legislation, while protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights, especially of the most vulnerable.  European States were also facing an ever-greater influx of migrants and possible human rights violations in that regard. 

Strengthening of equality was at the forefront of French policy making.  Marriage equality allowed for all adults to form families under equal conditions.  France had for some time had means at its disposal to fight hatred and discrimination, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  The inter-ministerial delegation to combat racism and anti-Semitism, answerable to the Prime Minister’s Office, had seen its resources beefed up.  This week, a TV campaign was being broadcast on all public networks raising public awareness on combatting racist behaviour, following recommendations by the Committee. 

Mr. Alabrune said that Travellers were entitled to equal access to law, while respecting their mobile lifestyle.  France was committed to bringing an end to the legal status of the Traveller community which ran counter to the French legislation.  France was dismantling illegal camps in which migrants were living, and every day 40,000 hotel stays for them were financed by the State in Ile-de-France.  As of January 2015, 93 per cent of housed children attended school, and over two-thirds of those migrants enjoyed medical benefits. 

France could not fight terrorism without respecting human rights and the rule of law.  Detainees could contact their families and had access to their counsels from the very beginning of their detention.  Prolongation of custody was very strictly governed and had to be examined and approved by courts.  The 2014 law on counter-terrorism measures prohibited French citizens who were going to engage in terrorist activities abroad from leaving the French territories.  That measure could be contested in courts in urgent procedures.  With the view of guaranteeing public liberties and respecting private life, France had just adopted a law promoting a legal framework regulating surveillance activities.  It was one of the last Western democratic countries not to have had a complete and coherent framework in place.  Maximum duration of keeping acquired data and the obligation to respect the principle of proportionality with regard to the limitation of fundamental freedoms were introduced, among others.

The French authorities wished to ensure that the time spent in prisons could help rehabilitate the inmates.  In 2014, following an investigative mission, a law had been adopted to modernize sentencing and to make it more effective.  In particular, a new sentence of criminal constraint had been established, and 700 such sentences had been issued between October 2014 and May 2015.  The General Inspectorate for Prisons had been strengthened; Members of the Parliament could also address that body now. Persons might be called upon to provide information, and information was sought on prison building projects.

The challenges that remained served to bolster France’s respect for civil and political rights.  France was committed to engaging in a constructive dialogue with each and every Committee member.  Recent progress and real efforts undertaken, which would be presented in the spirit of openness today, were the proof of France’s serious approach.

Questions by Experts

An Expert welcomed the modification of the interpretative delegation of Article 14, paragraph 5, which no longer applied to criminal offences.  Regarding reservations to Article 27, explanation was sought why that was necessary.  Why would the French constitutional system be in contradiction with the obligations spelled out in that article?  

Was the State party unable to collect information on ethnic, religious and linguistic characteristics of its population? 

There was no reply on the Committee’s request for statistics on police violence.  Was it the case that no statistics were kept?  Most allegations on mistreatment reportedly appeared during the first confrontation with the subject. 

Questions were asked about the police abuse of migrants trying to leave Calais.

There were reports that some so-called “persons of particular interest” kept in detention were constantly supervised at night, with lights turned on every couple of hours.  Was it true that there was such a special treatment, and what was the reason for that?

The delegation was asked to comment on the use of alternative weapons, including electrical discharge weapons, which had reportedly led to serious injuries and deaths.  Desire by the State party to use the minimum possible lethal force was welcome, but efforts should be made to ensure that even alternative weapons were used only when absolutely necessary.

Could the delegation comment on excessive and degrading procedures for effecting expulsions from the State party? 

At what stage was the investigation of the sexual abuse of children committed by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic?

The overcrowding of prisons seemed to persist, and currently stood at 116 percent.  How reassured could the Committee be that the measures underway would effectively address this problem?

Another Expert raised issues of individual liberties in the fight against terrorism.  The Committee was concerned at reports that pre-trial detention could last up to four years.  How many individuals had been held on terrorism charges for more than 48 hours?  What were the standards and procedures for extending pre-trial detention, and what limits did the French law impose on that length? What steps were taken to ensure that the judges in such cases would act independently?

The delegation was asked to comment on the access to counsel, which, in some exceptional cases, could be deferred to more than 72 hours.  What were the compelling reasons for such deferrals in each case?  What was the rationale to limiting the consultation period to 30 minutes?

A number of non-governmental organizations had expressed concern over the breadth of France’s anti-terrorism laws.  What was the number of individuals charged with criminal associations with terrorist undertakings, and how many of them had been convicted and discharged? 

Were French judicial officers always required to be present in the process of obtaining evidence from those held in custody in third States?  How could it be ensured that those held in detention were not exposed to torture prior or after the presence of French investigators?

The Expert asked about the judicial oversight of surveillance activities, which seemed to be largely missing.  The new bill should alter those mechanisms somewhat, but more clarification was sought.

Elections in France were subject to parity between men and women, which had led to a remarkable increase of women in both houses of Parliament.  Were officials prohibited from performing local functions if they were serving at national and European levels, and what was the link with the representation of women?  Were penalties on political parties truly necessary?

Nonetheless, the Expert noted, discrimination was still prevalent.  When it came to maternity leave, many contracts were not renewed when women returned to work after rearing children. 

Regarding access of Roma to education, health and housing, the French Government stated that public education was open to everyone until the age of 16, and there was no derogation from that.  How was the policy applied in practice, especially in shanty towns?

Evacuations and forced dismantlement of traveller camps, and their effect on women and children, were a matter of concern.  Those evacuations sometimes took place without reasonable notifications, which could lead to high school dropout rates.

On the issue of trafficking in human beings, the Expert said that there seemed to be a gap between the January 2015 circular and the sentences handed down by tribunals.  The case law did not seem to be working in the right direction, as there seemed to be resistance among tribunals in applying the latest circular. 

Another Expert turned to the question of domestic violence, saying that there seemed to be an increase in convictions.  What was the State party doing in terms of awareness raising and preventive work?  Did the awareness raising programmes reach out to the most vulnerable? Additional information on shelters for women victims of domestic violence would be appreciated. 

Could an applicant contest the fast-track procedure for deportation? Were asylum applicants advised of access to possible remedies?  Did the law guarantee access to free interpretation services for asylum seekers under difficult circumstances?  Why was there a different regime in place with regard to France’s overseas territories and departments?

The issue of prosecuting perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes was raised by an Expert.  France’s contribution to the International Criminal Court was admirable.  If acts were committed abroad by a foreign national and no victims were French, could France still arrest the alleged perpetrator and submit him to the courts?  Some relevant legislation seemed to be still discussed in Parliament.  The Committee could only encourage the expansion of universal jurisdiction for the gravest crimes.  More precision from the delegation was sought.

The Expert asked about the outcomes of the studies into the environmental impact of nuclear tests in French Polynesia.  How had the environmental situation there changed as compared to the period before the impact? 

Even though France had reservations towards Article 27, what specific measures had been taken to combat inter-ethnic and inter-cultural tensions in the French society, another Expert inquired. 

What measures had been taken to combat multiple discrimination and were statistics available on cases when victims were female?

Could more information be provided on the plan to introduce national indignity into national legislation?  What was the current state of play, and what would its compatibility be with the Covenant?

The delegation was asked to provide information on how many passports had been suspended and which safeguards were in place against such administrative measures?

Responses by the Delegation

On the question of police violence, the delegation said that the President was committed to improving relations between the police and the population at large.  A joint ethics code had entered into force in 2014, setting out a great number of rules, including security inspections and the proportionate use of force.  All uniforms of police officers and gendarmes wore numbers large enough so that those could be seen and identified  by citizens.  Internet platforms could now be used to report cases of violence.  Three hundred and sixty-eight inquiries into police violence had been submitted in 2014, out of more than four million interventions by police officers and gendarmes. 

Regarding the usage of less lethal arms, the delegation said that they meant to protect lives, but their dangers should not be underestimated.  Officers using such weapons were properly trained.  Portable cameras on police officers would be on whenever there was a lethal or non-lethal intervention. 

Migrants who wanted to leave from Calais to the United Kingdom were sometimes forcibly taken off the trucks on which they were attempting to leave, but they were not dispersed, as the Committee mentioned.

Answering the questions on prisons, the delegation stated that there were 274 specifically designated detainees out of more than 60,000 detainees.  The reasons for being on the special list were transparent and included belonging to an organized crime gang, or having attempted a prison break, or hostage taking within the prison.  The Minister of Justice herself made a decision on placing an inmate on that list; her decision could be challenged.  The rights of the special detainees were not affected.  Night inspections in front of the cell took place four times per night as silently as possible.

Prison overcrowding was a priority question for the French Government.  Measures had been taken to increase building stock, and the optimal capacity would be achieved by 2019.  The problem could not be dealt with only through administrative programmes, but changes in the sentencing system were also necessary.  Regular assessments were undertaken of the prison premises programme and prison policies. 

Regarding sexual violence during the Sangaris operation in the Central African Republic, a delegate said France was taking such accusations very seriously.  As soon as the information had been received, the judiciary had started an investigation and the prosecutors were dealing it.  The investigation was confidential and no more information could be currently provided.

The delegation said that France’s legislation did not recognize the category of “Roma”.  When it came to camps, administrative decisions could be made, subject to judicial overview.  Camp clearance had been blocked by judges on a number of occasions.  Judges tried to balance the needs of all parties.  

The migrant population living in slums was mostly of Romanian origin.  Since 2012, France had had a new framework in place for action clearances.  The Prime Minister had tasked the inter-ministerial delegation on housing to address the issue; four million euros had been dedicated to supporting those involved.  Clearances continued to exist, but on legal footing and an assessment would be always carried out.  Clearances might interrupt schooling of children in some cases, but they were mostly undertaken during school holidays.  Some evacuees went straight into social housing while others availed themselves of other types of support offered to them.

Judges were at the very heart of decision making, the delegation stated.  France had been able to avoid adopting exceptional emergency legislation, and fundamental freedoms had been provided.  A person suspected of terrorism could freely choose his or her lawyer and there was no derogation from that right.  Terrorist remand in custody was similar to regular remand in custody; only once in four years had there been an instance when a person had been detained for more than 72 hours without access to a lawyer.  That had been done because of the fear of an imminent terrorist attack.

The statute of limitations of three months had been extended to three years when it came to incitement to terrorism, in the aftermath of the January terrorist attacks in Paris.  France had largely been able to halt the wave of incitement to terrorism.

Departure of a person from France could be prohibited if there was a serious doubt that the person wanted to commit a terrorist act elsewhere or wanted to move to a theatre of operations where terrorist activities were taking place, such as Syria.  Thus far, 118 exit bans had been issued; their passports and identity cards had been appropriated so that they could not leave.  The process was under the strict supervision of judges. 

The delegation said that the terrorist threat in France was at a level that did not need much detailing.  France had opted to respond to that with very firm methods strictly in line with the republican tradition of the country.  For the first time in the Fifth Republic, the President had brought the draft law to the Constitutional Court to ensure that the right balance was guaranteed in the law.  Several possibilities for the control of telephone tapping were possible; it was the Prime Minister on the basis of a written statement who could decide on such measures.  Opinion by the Court of Cassation would also be issued on each case.  Parliament had also seen its oversight of secret services increased.  The draft law, the delegation stressed, remained in line with the rest of the French legislation. 

Regarding statistics on ethnicity, there was a prohibition against any system which would be devised by the State to fit persons into religious or ethnic categories, even if it was meant for a good purpose.  There was no prohibition against self-declaration.  A statistical tool existed on collecting persons’ self-declarations, in line with the Constitution.  The nature of the nation was unitary and indivisible.  France promoted equal treatment of all persons without distinction to their background.  It was along those grounds that France maintained its reservation on Article 26.

On France’s declaration related to Article 13 of the Covenant, the delegation explained that the French law provided that decisions on expulsions could be made prior to adversarial discussion if there was an absolute emergency.  Article 13 provided for the elimination of adversarial discussion only if there was an imperious need. 

Referring to individual communications, the State party believed that the Committee’s views did not have legal force.  The Committee published its views, which were then widely disseminated through public bodies in France.

On trafficking in persons, it was stated that the 2014-2016 plan provided for the establishment of a fund to finance anti-trafficking activities, including confiscating funds.  The size of the fund could thus not be easily defined.  France was very much attached to enhancing the role of the National Commission for Human Rights, which would get further involved in the anti-trafficking efforts.   France had signed and ratified both the Palermo and Warsaw Conventions.

Answering to the questions on violence against women, the delegation informed that in 2013 there had been 400 sentences for psychological and sexual harassment, and 247 for harassment against a spouse.  There were provisions allowing a family judge to protect the spouse and also children. 

France was in the process of far-reaching reforms of its asylum system.  The new law would strengthen the right to asylum, which was an absolute need in today’s world with so many in need of protection.  Legal guarantees for asylum seekers would be reinforced, and conditions for their intake and the procedures improved.  The aim was to shorten the procedures from the current 24 months to nine months.  In the overwhelming number of cases, asylum seekers posed no threat to public order.  Countries of safe origin were acknowledged by the new law, in line with European legislation. 

Questions by Experts

An Expert asked about policies and procedures in place, including external oversight, for prison authorities to conduct body searches.  Were there any specific restrictions on physical searches of persons with mental disabilities?  Had the use of electronic methods been used to decrease the number of physical body searches?

What efforts were in place to reduce overcrowding in prisons, including through reducing recidivism and providing employment opportunities?  How much funding went to the promotion of non-custodial sentencing?  How many prisoners were held in each of the 14 overseas prisons, an Expert asked. 

Could the delegation provide information on the suicide rates of inmates in French prisons, and what measures were in place to prevent that?  Was there a minimal cell size, and what was the progress made towards individual cells? What stakeholders had been consulted in the prison modernization process?

Turning to the question of unaccompanied minors in the immigration system in Mayotte, the Expert asked how many minors were currently kept there.  Were services provided there the same as those provided in mainland France?  The Expert asked which procedures were in place to establish the exact age of minors.

The June 2011 law had lengthened the period of time in which liberty and custody judges examined the legality of the detention of immigrants waiting for removal.  The majority of detainees seemed to be removed before its legality was reviewed by relevant judges.  What percentage of detained individuals were deported within the first five days of their detention? How was it ensured that the removals under the 2011 law were in line with the principle of non-refoulement?

Another Expert raised the question of persons with disabilities, and asked about measures taken for children to attend schools, be deinstitutionalized and reintegrated into society. 

The delegation was asked about the practice of so-called “packing” applied to children with autism and similar situations.  Were parents consulted in the process?

An Expert inquired about updated figures on visa demands which had been granted.  What was the rate of rejection of visa applications?

Were non-governmental organizations encouraged to participate in the preparation of the report?  That was something that the Committee very much would like to see.

The ban on wearing ostentatious religious symbols might not be compatible with the State party’s obligations to allow for free expression of religious affiliation under the Covenant, an Expert noted.  An example of a Sikh student reportedly expelled from school was brought up.  There were penalties provided for concealing faces, namely wearing burqa.  Muslim girls might thus face dual discrimination, based on their belonging to a religious group and female sex.  Were there statistics on students having to leave school because of that? 

Data on physical attacks against Muslim and Jewish communities for 2015 were requested.  What measures did the Government intend to adopt to stop police and law enforcement officers from carrying out checks on the basis of a person’s physical appearance?  Persons of North African background continued to be disproportionately checked. 

Could more information be furnished on the penalization of racist or xenophobic statements?  The Expert wanted to know when an annual report on the subject matter would be presented.  Did parliamentary immunity apply in such cases or were there ways to start proceedings against politicians inciting hatred?

Turning to the issue of hate speech on the Iinternet, the Expert concurred that a legal framework ought to be adopted.  Had any initiatives been taken in that regard?

Another Expert asked for clarifications related to the prohibition of five pro-Palestinian demonstrations in July 2014. 

There seemed to be quite a striking progression in sentencing for trafficking in persons over the previous few years.  Could the delegation comment on that?

An Expert asked whether France recognized inter-cultural or multi-cultural phenomena at all, given that legally the State did not recognize Roma.  What measures were taken to promote self-identification or self-recognition?

The question of the reservation to Article 27 was raised again by an Expert.  Article 27 was about the right of individuals to self-identify and associate with similar members.  What was the motivation of the reservation?

How could it be ensured that non-lethal weapons were used only as a substitute to lethal weapons rather than for less harmful means?  Cameras could be a very useful means for monitoring the situation on the ground, the Expert commented. 

The Expert asked what the exact distinction was between “detention” and “security detention”, when speaking about migrants?

It was hard to see what had happened between July 2014 and March 2015 when it came to the case of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic.  It would be reassuring to know that the matter had been proceeding before it had reached the public domain.  Could the Committee be assured now that it would reach very serious conclusions?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained that the law clearly specified the limits on the use of contracts.  On gender parity, France had maintained a plan for implementation and penalties were in place if companies failed to implement them.

Regarding universal competence, the delegation said that the Government had a very wide understanding of competence.  Universal competence was not explicitly spelled out in the Rome Statute, but it was in its spirit.  There could be a conflict of competence between French courts and the International Criminal Court; in that case, priority should be given to the International Criminal Court, whose impartiality could not be contested.  The French judiciary could deal with cases only if the International Criminal Court declined its competence. 

Responding to the questions on prisons, it was stated that the 2009 prison law banned systematic full body searches of detainees, and listed cases of when that remained a possibility.  Alternative devices to naked body searches existed; the Ministry of Justice had reminded prisons of the existing rules.  Recent censuses had confirmed that systematic searches had been dropped.  Prison staff had been trained accordingly. 

An open environment was a priority for the Ministry of Justice.  Over the last several years, the use of technologies such as electronic bracelets was on the rise.

On the penitentiaries in the overseas territories, there were some 4,000 detainees held there as of 2014.  The rates were very variable depending on the establishment.  Most of those territories had difficult socio-economic conditions, compared to mainland France.  Local authorities were asked to pay special attention to overcrowding and encouraged to be more proactive in reducing sentences and providing sentencing outside. 

To prevent suicides among detainees, there was a national plan in place, a delegate explained.  Training staff to detect signs of suicide, combatting the sense of isolation and mobilizing prison communities as a whole were all among measures taken in that regard.  The action plan was regularly monitored, and the overall suicide rate had gone from 18/1,000 to 13/1,000 over the previous five years.  An inter-ministerial study was underway as well.

There were 5,058 foreign isolated minors in Mayotte in 2014 and 2,079 in the first five months of 2015.  Minors could not be irregular migrants but rather accompanied adults who were migrating.  All of them arrived by boats; health inspections were immediately carried out.  The average duration in detention was 17 hours.  The French Office for Migration had been active in Mayotte since November 2014.  At the national level, the duration of detention for families stood at two days, while accommodation was prepared and organized.

With regard to the preservation of family links of detained persons, French legislation stipulated that the best interest of the child prevailed.  There had to be a judicial decision in that regard.

The delegation said that the law on family reunification gave priority to spouses, children under 18 and parents of minor children.  Identity and the family connection ought to be proved, and no threat to national security detected.  The number of visas for family reunification purposes remained stable.  Refusals were issued when family links were not established.  Provisions in the new law would certainly facilitate that process.

Regarding the combat against discrimination and racism, a delegate stated that it was declared to be one of the main national causes by the President.  The inter-ministerial body had a budget of 100 million euros for three years.  The action plan was in place to mobilize France against racism and anti-Semitism in the period 2015-2017.  The increase of anti-Semitic acts in France was a matter of concern.  Some Jewish, Muslim, but also Christian objects were now protected by the armed forces.  The number of anti-Muslim acts in 2015 had already been higher than in the entire 2014.  New pedagogical measures had been decided on and would enter into force at the end of 2015.

The delegation emphasized that the French Constitution described France as a secular Republic.  It was a legal principle which could be invoked before all French courts and the pillar of its history.  It was a principle to which the overwhelming majority of French citizens were attached.  The secular nature of the Republic meant that the State did not finance or support any religious institutions and guaranteed free exercise of one’s beliefs.  Ritual butchering of animals by Jews and Muslims was protected, for example. 

Prohibition of wearing of ostentatious religious symbols was meant to decrease tensions in schools and protect school children against pressure.  The purpose of those provisions was to enhance social harmony; a much calmer climate in schools had been reportedly created.  Complete concealment of the face in public was prohibited; it was seen as possibly undermining the public order.  One should be able to discern the person in public space.  The European Court of Human Rights had validated the law, acknowledging the importance of coexistence. 

Cameras carried by each policeman had to be turned on every time they were engaged, the delegation explained.

There was no use of secret intelligence in the confiscation of passports.  The procedure was totally adversarial.

Nuclear tests in French Polynesia were addressed by a delegate who explained that France was aware of the follow-up to the consequences of nuclear testing.  Full compensation to victims was guaranteed provided that they had been present in the affected area at the relevant time and suffered medical consequences as a result. 

The National Advisory Committee for Human Rights, representing the civil sector, had been involved in the preparation of the fifth periodic report and replies to the List of Issues. 

A four-fold increase in trafficking cases was explained as a result of the new definition of trafficking.

Follow-up Questions

The issue of “packing” was raised again.

The Rome Statute did not allow for universal jurisdiction, an Expert noted.  Legislation in France contained certain provisions which made it more difficult to exercise universal jurisdiction.  The article in place applied to both State and non-State parties. 

Responses by the Delegation

A delegate explained that in France the technique of “packing” was undergoing revision.  It had been carried out on only 58 patients with the consent of the parents.

The Prime Minister had recently met with the religious leaders of French Muslims.  Nine million euros were provided to protect Muslim places of worship.  A unit to combat hate on the Internet was also active.  The views of the community were certainly taken into consideration.

Concluding Remarks

FRANÇOIS ALABRUNE, Director of Judicial Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, thanked the Committee for closely listening to the delegation, for posing very targeted questions and for the constructive exchange.  The matters raised were very relevant, and in some cases perhaps not the most in-depth replies had been provided.  France was making progress and was determined to meet the requirements of the Covenant.  The Government was aware that it had to be vigilant, and was aware of the work that remained to be done.  In that regard, the Committee’s questions would be very helpful in guiding the State party’s actions.  France would be interested in submitting its next report in line with the simplified procedure.

FABIAN OMAR SALVIOLI, Chairperson of the Committee, said that it was important that the State party review its reservations, particularly in relation to Article 27.   Perhaps tailored responses could be prepared to ensure that various groups within the very diverse French nation could have their needs met.  The Committee stood in total solidarity with all the victims of terrorism, but sometimes the measures taken contradicted the Covenant.  Judicial guarantees, effective access to defence counsel, and not obtaining confession under duress in third countries were all very important.  More might need to be done regarding the detention of unaccompanied minors.  The Committee had never questioned the principle of secularism, but simply drawn attention to measures possibly not in proportion with noble objectives.  The State party was encouraged to adopt the simplified reporting procedure.


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