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Human rights in France

Human rights in France

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The preamble of the Constitution
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

 of the French Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

, founded in 1958, recalls the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

. France has also ratified the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 1960 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for European Union citizens and residents, into EU law. It was drafted by the European Convention and solemnly proclaimed on 7 December 2000 by the European Parliament, the Council of...

 (2000). All these international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 instruments takes precedent on national legislation. However, human rights abuses take place nevertheless. The most frequent cases are of police abuse, while France has also been condemned, both by French citizens and institutions and also by the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 (ECHR) for detention conditions in the penitentiary system. The state of detention centres for unauthorized migrants who have received an order of deportation
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 has also been criticized.

Conventions and Acts


During the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, deputies from the Third Estate drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

, voted by the General Estates
Estates-General of 1789
The Estates-General of 1789 was the first meeting since 1614 of the French Estates-General, a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the nobility, the Church, and the common people...

 on 26 August 1789. Inspired by the philosophy of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 and by the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 – Lafayette participated in the drafting of both – in that it proclaims the "inalienable rights of Man
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

," and is protected by a "Supreme Being," it mainly granted to the people
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 the right of freedom of expression, of freedom of thought
Freedom of thought
Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints....

, freedom of association
Freedom of association
Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests....

, liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

, security
Security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

 and the protection of private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

. France signed and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 in 1984 and all Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

.

Censorship



In conventional terms, France does not have censorship laws. Historically, before its repeal under François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 in the early 1980s, the ORTF had a significant influence on the mass media. The CSA
Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel
The Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel is a French institution, created in 1989, whose role is to regulate the various electronic media in France, such as radio and television, including through eventual censorship...

 that has since replaced it is concerned with the respect of French law in the media, in particular the 1990 Gayssot Act which prohibits racist and/or religious hate speech
Hate speech
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic....

, and time period allocated to each political party
Politics of France
France is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of France is head of state and the Prime Minister of France is the head of government, and there is a pluriform, multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is...

 during pre-electoral periods. Furthermore, other laws prohibit homophobic hate speech, and a 1970 law prohibits the advocacy of illegal drugs.

Police abuses and detention conditions


In 2004, the Inspector General of the National Police received 469 registered complaints about illegitimate police violence during the first 11 months of the year, down from 500 during the same period in 2003. There were 59 confirmed cases of police violence, compared to 65 in the previous year. In April 2004, the ECHR condemned the Government for "inhumane and degrading treatments" in the 1997 case of a teenager beaten while in police custody. The court ordered the Government to pay Giovanni Rivas $20,500 (15,000 euros) in damages and $13,500 (10,000 euros) in court costs. The head of the police station in Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis....

, near Paris, was forced to resign after allegations of rape and other violations committed by the police force under his command. Nine investigations concerning police abuse in this police station were done in 2005 by the IGS inspection of police.

Discrimination



The “idéal républicain” (republican ideal) intends to achieve equality in rights between French citizens. To this end, in the national census, the collection of statistics regarding ethnicity or religion is forbidden. This has led to some debate over the decline of indigenous minority languages and identity in the French Republic.

According to the Direction centrale des renseignements généraux (Central Directorate of General Intelligence), the former intelligence service of the French police, in 2004 there were 1513 explicitly racist or antisemitic incidents in France, including 361 acts of violence. Antisemitic incidents were the most numerous, accounting for 950 of the incidents, including 199 violent acts. Anti-Maghreb incidents accounted for 563 incidents, including 162 violent acts. The Paris region was the most affected. 2007 saw an overall decrease of 9% in such incidents.

Minority acculturation



Before the Revolution, Standard French (a dialect of Langue d'Oïl) was spoken in only slightly more than half of the territory of France. In western Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, southern Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 and most of the southern half of France (Occitania
Occitania
Occitania , also sometimes lo País d'Òc, "the Oc Country"), is the region in southern Europe where Occitan was historically the main language spoken, and where it is sometimes still used, for the most part as a second language...

), local people had their own distinct cultures. Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 is a Celtic language
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 akin to Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

, Alsace-Lorraine was part of the German-speaking world, while Occitan is a separate Romance language
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

. With the centralization of the Republic that accompanied the Revolution, the state imposed the teaching of Standard French in all schools and universities, and the exclusive use of French in government institutions.

Promotion of regional languages and dialects has been allowed, and even promoted, in recent decades.

Freedom of religion


Freedom of religion in France is guaranteed by the constitutional rights set forth in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

. Some have argued that the French law on conspicuous religious symbols in schools law on religious symbol] in schools curbs religious freedom. Scientology
Scientology
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

 is effectively banned in France.

Women rights


France allowed women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 on 21 April 1944.

The Neuwirth law legalized birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

 methods on 28 December 1967. Youths
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 were given anonymous and free access to them in 1974.

Abortion was legalized in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy by Simone Veil
Simone Veil
Simone Veil, DBE is a French lawyer and politician who served as Minister of Health under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, President of the European Parliament and member of the Constitutional Council of France....

 law on 17 January 1975.

Homosexuality



France has traditionally been socially liberal with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, and this is reflected in the country's legislation, although it now lags behind some other European countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, countries that have all legalized same-sex marriage.

Homosexuality was decriminalized during the Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 by the law of the 25 September – 6 October 1791.

On 6 August 1942 Nazi puppet Vichy government introduced a discriminative law in penal code: article 334 (moved to article 331 on 8 février 1945 by the Provisional Government of the French Republic
Provisional Government of the French Republic
The Provisional Government of the French Republic was an interim government which governed France from 1944 to 1946, following the fall of Vichy France and prior to the Fourth French Republic....

) increased age of consent to 21 for homosexual relations. This law remained valid until 4 August 1982.

A less known discriminative law (ordonnance
Decree
A decree is a rule of law issued by a head of state , according to certain procedures . It has the force of law...

n°60-1245 on 1960, 25 November ) doubled penalty for indecent exposure
Indecent exposure
Indecent exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior. Indecent exposure laws vary in different...

 in case of homosexual activity, between 1960 and 1980 (penal code article 330). This text is also known as the Mirguet  amendment
Amend (motion)
-Explanation and Use:-Main Motions:Any main motion and any motion to amend may be amended. However, a motion to amend a motion to amend may not be amended, due to the overly complex parliamentary situation that would frequently result.-Secondary Motions:...

.

The pacte civil de solidarité
Pacte civil de solidarité
In France, a pacte civil de solidarité commonly known as a PACS /paks/ , is a form of civil union between two adults for organising their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage...

, a form of civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

, introduced in 1999, allows same-sex unions. LGBT adoption and same-sex marriage in France
Same-sex marriage in France
Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in France, though some foreign same-sex marriages are recognized and the PACS, which confers some of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, is available to same-sex couples....

 are yet to be legalized.

Disabled people


Since July 1987, all companies with at least 20 workers have to employ at least 6% handicapped people.

Human trafficking


There has been a growing awareness of human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 as a human rights issue in Europe (see main article: trafficking in human beings). The end of communism and collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia has contributed to an increase in human trafficking, with the majority of victims being women forced into prostitution. http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/Files/Themes/trafficking/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3979725.stm France is a transit and destination country for persons, primarily women, trafficked mainly from Central and Eastern Europe and from Africa for the purpose of labour exploitation and sexual exploitation. The Government of France fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The French government was called on to make sure that implementation of the 2003 Domestic Security Law did not result in re-victimizing trafficking victims by improving the screening of foreign prostitutes so that trafficking victims are properly identified and protected from their traffickers.http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46613.htm

Mass surveillance and databases


See Government databases#France.

The CNIL
CNIL
The Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés or CNIL is an independent French administrative authority whose mission is to ensure that data privacy law is applied to the collection, storage, and use of personal data. Its existence was established by French , concerning computers,...

 is supposed to authorize government databases which may imbreach on privacy
Data privacy
Information privacy, or data privacy is the relationship between collection and dissemination of data, technology, the public expectation of privacy, and the legal and political issues surrounding them....

.

Human rights organizations



  • Amnesty International
    Amnesty International
    Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

     (AI)
  • Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

     (HRW)
  • Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDH, Human Rights League – created during the Dreyfus Affair
    Dreyfus Affair
    The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

     at the end of the 19th century)
  • MRAP anti-racist NGO
  • SOS Racisme
    SOS Racisme
    SOS Racisme is a French anti-racist NGO, founded in 1984. Its Spanish counterpart, SOS Racismo, is based in Barcelona.-Activities:SOS Racisme's main goal is to fight racial discrimination. Often the plaintiff in discrimination trials, the organization also offers support to immigrants and racial...

  • CIMADE
    Cimade
    The Cimade is a French NGO founded at the beginning of the WWII by French Protestant student groups, in particular the Christian activist and member of the French Resistance Madeleine Barot, to give assistance and support to people uprooted by war, in the first instance those who were evacuated...

     (the only organization authorized to visit internment camp for illegal aliens (sans-papiers, literally "without-papers", that is people who do not possess identity documents)
  • GISTI
    GISTI
    GISTI is a French non-profit human rights organization created in 1972 to protect the legal and political rights of foreigners and immigrants and to advocate freedom of movement across borders....

     (immigrants support NGO)
  • etc.

See also

  • Freedom of information in France
  • High authority for the struggle against discrimination and for equality
    High authority for the struggle against discrimination and for equality
    The High Authority for the Struggle Against Discrimination and for Equality is a French "independent administrative authority" which "has the right to judge all discrimination, direct or indirect, that is prohibited by law or an international agreement to which France is a signatory."HALDE was...

     (HALDE)
  • Humanism in France
    Humanism in France
    Humanism in France found its way from Italy, but did not become a distinct movement until the 16th century was well on its way.On the completion of the Hundred Years' War between France and England, the intellectual currents of humanism began to start. In 1464, Peter Raoul composed for the Duke of...

  • La Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation
    La Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation
    The Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation was founded on 17 October 1990 on the initiative of former French prime minister Michel Rocard and the former minister of the Interior...


External links