Six NGOs put the state on notice against facies checks

Today, when you have a skin color that is not white, you are much more controlled (…) because we are identified as a factor of risks, of problems, and it is unsustainable. The words are from Emmanuel Macron, on December 4 on Brut.

Less than two months later, this Wednesday, January 27, six NGOs launched a group action against the state to stop “Facial identity checks”. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, MCDS, Open Society Justice Initiative, Pazapas Belleville, Reaji are warning the Prime Minister as well as the ministers of the interior and of justice to take “ structural reforms “So that this practice ceases” generalized “And” discriminatory “. And this, a few days before the launch of the Beauvau de la sécurité, a major debate devoted to the police and the gendarmerie (see benchmarks).

The collective will be able to take legal action “After four months” if the measures requested were not adopted. Among these, an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure “To explicitly prohibit discrimination in controls “, the creation of a ” recording system ‘ data on checks, the provision of a receipt to the persons checked or a “Effective and independent complaints mechanism”.

The NGOs rely on numerous testimonies and on existing publications. In 2017, a study by the defender of rights revealed that young people ” perceived as black or arab Were twenty times more likely to be tested than the rest of the population. ” These controls create mistrust, so the police feel the need to assert their authority, so they control: it is a vicious circle that feeds itself! “, denounces Jean-François Dubost, head of the population protection program at Amnesty International, who sees in the possibility of ” control apart from any suspicious behavioran open door to abuse “. Against the backdrop of the number policy: “Control is the easy way to be able to quantify an activity. “

Existing in the United States since the mid-twentiethe century, the collective redress procedure was introduced in France in 2014. Consumers or users who claim to be victims of the same damage can come together to obtain compensation and / or put an end to a breach in the areas of consumption, health, the environment, the protection of personal data and discrimination. To date, the Council of State has counted four group actions before the administrative judge, two of which against ministers. Three were rejected, one was discontinued. Two are at the appeal stage. The Group Actions Observatory, a university site, also identifies a procedure before the judicial judge on the issue of discrimination. It was rejected at the end of 2020.

“This means of action offers the possibility of changing things in depth whereas an individual complaint resolves the situation of only one person”, underlines Jean-François Dubost. But does the chosen procedure have its chances? “She’s quite clever”, answers Serge Slama, professor of public law at the University of Grenoble-Alpes. ” Because it aims here to put an end to a breach and not to request compensation, which avoids having to demonstrate discrimination case by case. “ This implies, according to the lawyer, “Have the judge find discrimination, the existence of which has already been recognized by Emmanuel Macron, by the Court of Cassation (who condemned the state for facies checks in 2016, Editor’s note) and by reports ”.

“Studies are not evidence that we are used to using in courtrooms”, note however Me Louis Le Foyer de Costil. According to the public law lawyer, this group procedure involves a paradigm shift for the judge: “He must leave his role of settling a dispute between two people on a specific case in order to be able to render a fairly general decision.


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