French state justifies 'racial profiling' in police searches


The French state is currently appealing to the highest court in the country after five identity checks carried out by police were judged discriminatory because they were based on people's appearance. Mediapart has now seen the legal arguments made by state lawyers who argue that in some circumstances it can be justifiable for police to target black and North Africans for such searches. Thus despite domestic and international jurisprudence, writes Michaël Hajdenberg, the French state appears to be condoning the practice of racial profiling.

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The French state believes that the practice of police singling out people who are black or of North African appearance for identity checks can be justified, according to documents seen by Mediapart. Government lawyers argue that when the police are looking for possible immigration offences – for example not having the correct documents – it can be legitimate to target people from different ethnic backgrounds rather than whites as potential offenders. This is despite the fact that this practice of so-called 'racial profiling' - contrôles au faciès in French - is counter to all domestic and international jurisprudence. And in spite of the promise given by François Hollande when he was a presidential candidate that he would fight such ethnically-targeted police searches.