Statement by the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination ( 8 July 2023)


France has learned of the statement by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the situation in France. France disputes what it considers to be excessive statements, and deplores the fact that the unjustifiable violence committed in recent days against the police, elected representatives, public services, police stations, schools, social and healthcare centres and town halls, as well as numerous items of property, has been forgotten.

We express our incomprehension over the lack of solidarity and compassion for the elected representatives and representatives of French institutions who were the target of attacks, even though they are central to French democratic life, as well as for the 800 injured police officers, gendarmes and firefighters.

Any accusation of systemic racism or discrimination by the police in France is unfounded. France recalls, first and foremost, that it is a law-based State which respects its international obligations, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, having provided the Committee with a substantiated demonstration of this in November 2022. The fight against racism and all forms of discrimination is a political priority set out in its national plan to combat racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination based on origin, presented by the Prime Minister on 30 January 2023.

All ethnic profiling measures by police are banned in France because they are contrary to the constitutional principle of equality. The fight against police-check abuses based on racial profiling has been stepped up: reporting tools have been made available to users and officers. Any discriminatory behaviour that is reported is followed up and, where proven, subject to administrative or judicial sanction. Contrary to the CERD’s assertions, impunity is not tolerated: the policeman who fired the fatal shot was immediately brought before the courts and has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.

The police in France are subject to a level of internal, external and judicial oversight that exists in few other countries. France and its police forces resolutely combat racism and all forms of discrimination. No doubt is permitted over this commitment. As for the use of force by the national police and gendarmerie, it is governed by the principles of absolute necessity and proportionality, and is strictly regulated and controlled.

In the face of situations and acts of extreme violence, the justice system is continuing to work to establish the truth and apportion blame. France invites the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to show more discernment and restraint in its statements, and regrets their one-sided and approximate nature.