Alert Bangladesh: Prominent defenders receive two-year prison sentences
Omct individual regions map europe and central asia 01 01
CAT status Status under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment State Party since 18 February, 1986. State Party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention (OPCAT) since 11 November, 2008
Reviewed 2016 Read review


At a glance

In 2019, during the repeated "Gilets jaunes" protests, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on the French authorities to investigate the excessive use of force by the police since the beginning of the crisis in November 2018. The French police continue to use disproportionate and illegal force, including arrest techniques such as belly tackle and weapons such as LBD-40s and disencirclement grenades. The authorities have vague and overly broad criminal provisions for arresting peaceful demonstrators, and carry out discriminatory identity checks. The police enjoy a high degree of impunity as no fully independent oversight body has been established so far.

Prisons, and particularly “maisons d’arrêt”, are overcrowded and sometimes dilapidated. The Committee against Torture expressed concern in 2016 about the material conditions of detention in police stations, where several people have reported being deliberately beaten by the police.

Migrants continue to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, particularly in Calais, where a prefectural order prohibits associations not mandated by the State from giving food to migrants. On 24 November 2021, at least 27 people died in the Channel while trying to reach England by boat, while some migrants were refused the right to apply for asylum in Menton and Briançon.

The French judicial system still does not address adequately gender-based and sexual violence. In 2021, 113 women were victims of femicide. Police don’t forward to the prosecutor 29% of complaints filed by future victims of femicide, and 80% of complaints for violence communicated to the justice system are filed without any follow-up. One woman in two has suffered sexual violence in France

Our Network Members Working in this Area

Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts