From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
15 sue French government for racial profiling
Thursday 12 April 2012
by Our Foreign Desk
Fifteen French people of African or Arab descent sued the government on Wednesday for abusive searches based on what they say was racial profiling.
One of their lawyers said they were routinely stopped and searched – often involving humiliating pat-downs, insults and even threats – because of the way they look.
This is the first collective action of its kind in France.
The 15 were subjected to police checks between September and February and got in touch with a hotline run by the Stop Racial Profiling group.
The group’s lawyers conceded that it is hard to prove that a police check constitutes racial profiling because there is no written evidence that a check was warranted or that one even occurred.
Their aim is to prompt the drawing of new police guidelines for checks and ensure a report is made out for each one.
Lawyer Felix de Belloy said that the people who brought the action have no police records.
“When they ask why (they were stopped), the police say: ‘Shut up’,” Mr de Belloy said. “It is essential to understand that this is not the law.
“This practice is discriminatory and must end.”
The lawyers say that because this is a civil action the case would probably not go to court for 18 months.
The legal action is backed by the Open Society Justice Initiative of billionaire George Soros, the Union of French Lawyers and the Stop Racial Profiling group.
A study conducted in Paris by Mr Soros’s group and the National Centre for Scientific Research showed that black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, while it was eight times for Arabs.