UN rights office calls on France to address ‘deep issues’ of racism in policing
In a statement released in Geneva on Friday, OHCHR Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani expressed concern over the death of 17-year-old Nahel M on Tuesday, after he was shot dead driving away from a traffic stop in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.
According to news reports, at least 875 people were arrested in major cities around the country on Thursday night, after around 40,000 police officers were deployed to quell protests and rioting over the killing.
President Emmanuel Macron has urged parents to keep their children off the streets, while in Paris, shots have been ransacked and cars set alight, despite the heavy police presence.
Voluntary homicide charge
The officer who shot the youth has reportedly apologized to the family and has been officially charged with voluntary homicide.
Ms. Shamdasani noted that an investigation has been launched into the alleged voluntary homicide.
“This is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement”, she said.
Proportional use of force
“We also emphasize the importance of peaceful assembly. We call on the authorities to ensure use of force by police to address violent elements in demonstrations always respects the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination, precaution and accountability.
She called for any allegations of disproportionate use of force by people exercising their rights to protest, to be swiftly investigated.
According to latest figures released by France’s police regulator, there were 37 deaths during police operations recorded in 2021, of whom ten were shot dead.