Rights Watchdog urges France to combat racial discrimination

Rights Watchdog urges France to combat racial discrimination

PARIS (AP) – The French human rights watchdog urged authorities on Monday to take important measures to combat racial discrimination, as the country saw a series of anti-racism meetings following the death of George Floyd in the United States.

In an 80-page report, French rights defender Jacques Toubon said that discrimination harms the lives of millions of people and their fundamental rights in the country.

“People of foreign descent, or perceived as people with disabilities, are at a disadvantage in terms of access to jobs or housing and are more exposed to unemployment, poverty, poor housing, police checks, ill health and inequality in education,” Toubon said. in a statement.

Statistics and scientific studies show that racial discrimination has a “systemic dimension” in French society, Toubon noted.

The report came when two statues of Paris related to the French colonial era were daubed with red paint on Monday amid increasing demands from anti-racist activists in different countries to destroy monuments honoring prominent historical figures who played a role in the slave trade or colonialism.

Also on Monday, dozens of people gathered peacefully in front and in support of a mural that exposed racism and police brutality in Stains, next to Paris. The protesters met in response to an unauthorized protest from the police union demanding its removal.

The police union claimed that the mural “generalizes and confuses” police racism and violence, which it exposes as false accusations.

The mural was painted by local artists and inaugurated last week by the Mayor of Stains in homage to Adama Traore, a black Frenchman who was taken into custody in 2016. Traore died in 2016 in circumstances that remain unclear despite four years of back and forth. autopsies.

Mostly black, North African and a few whites attended the protest of Traore’s supporters.

JosuĂ© Isakwa, 17, came to protest against police brutality and racism. “When we were kids, big people told us about it and we laughed about it,” he said.

But at about the age of 15, Isakwa said he witnessed his first instance of police beating and harassing people. “I remember very well, it was the first day of Ramadan, on a Sunday,” he said.

No police were present during the protest and it spread peacefully an hour later.

In his report, the rights defender said that “people identified as black and Arab are systematically subject to bias and discrimination in their relations with the police.”

Toubon suggested creating an agency to better monitor the situation in the country and organizing national testing campaigns to uncover racial discrimination in recruitment, housing and business.

He also proposed stricter rules for police checks and legislative changes to make it easier to prove cases of discrimination in court and to ensure “deterrent” sanctions.

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AP journalist Arno Pedram contributed to Stains’ story.

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