Why was France re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council despite violating migrant children’s rights?

MediaWhy was France re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council despite violating...

By Seymur Mammadov             

As is well known, on October 10, 2023, France was re-elected by the UN General Assembly to the UN Human Rights Council, despite the human rights violations committed in 2023. Its mandate will be renewed in 2024 for a three-year term. This decision raises serious doubts about France’s ability to fulfill its commitments to the global community in this area. Such doubts are exacerbated by the examination of specific examples of recent violations. In this article, we will explore several critical aspects of human rights violations in France, focusing on events that occurred in 2023.

   

One of the most concerning examples that attracted international attention was the arrest and house search of a well-known journalist. In September 2023, France became the focus of global public attention following the arrest and house search of journalist Ariane Lavrilleux.

These actions caused immense outrage among media circles and defenders of press freedom. Lavrilleux was the co-author of an investigative article in 2021, utilizing leaked secret documents about France’s alleged complicity in illegal Egyptian military airstrikes. This incident raises questions about press freedom and the protection of journalists in France.

The criticism of the authorities’ actions was not limited to the sphere of press freedom but also touched on broader human rights issues, including detention conditions. In July of the same year, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling condemning France for detention conditions incompatible with human dignity and for insufficient legal remedies against abuses in prisons. This decision highlights problems related to the criminal justice system and the treatment of detainees in France. Such decisions underscore the importance of international pressure and attention to the situation with human rights in France.

In this context, particular attention deserves to be paid to racial discrimination. Also in July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on France to take measures to eliminate the systemic causes of racial discrimination, including police violence. This call became particularly relevant in light of the tragic case of Nael M., a 17-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, whose death during a traffic stop caused widespread public outcry.

This event raised serious questions about human rights observance in France, especially in the context of combating racial discrimination, highlighting the need for profound changes in approaches to law enforcement and justice.

The situation with human rights in France continues to cause concern among human rights groups and independent bodies, such as the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH). They point to abuses by law enforcement agencies, especially in the context of mass demonstrations and strikes. Reports of attacks on journalists by security forces during protests, as noted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), underscore problems with the observance of press freedom and the right to peaceful assembly. These facts prompt reflections on the need to strengthen the protection of fundamental freedoms.

In response to criticism from international organizations, France faces the challenge of recognizing and fulfilling its human rights obligations, including the freedom of expression and assembly. The UN Special Rapporteur, the Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights, and other experts remind of the urgency to improve the human rights situation in the country, emphasizing the significance of these issues at the international level.

Continuing the analysis of the situation, in August 2023, public attention was drawn to the problems of unaccompanied children in Menton and Nice, especially in the context of their isolation and lack of proper care. These issues elicited a response from 18 non-governmental organizations and were raised at the international level by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. These calls to France about the necessity to improve conditions for migrant and asylum-seeking children underscore the depth of the problem.

This incident raised serious questions about human rights observance in France, especially in the context of combating racial discrimination, highlighting the need for profound changes in approaches to law and justice.

The situation with human rights in France continues to cause concern among human rights groups and independent bodies such as the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH). They point to abuses by law enforcement agencies, particularly in the context of mass demonstrations and strikes. Reports of attacks on journalists by security forces during protests, as noted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), underscore problems with press freedom and the right to peaceful assembly. These facts prompt reflection on the need to strengthen the protection of fundamental freedoms.

In response to criticism from international organizations, France faces the challenge of recognizing and fulfilling its human rights obligations, including the freedom of expression and assembly. The UN Special Rapporteur, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and other experts remind us of the urgency of improving the human rights situation in the country, emphasizing the significance of these issues at the international level.

Continuing the analysis, in August 2023, public attention was drawn to the problems of unaccompanied children in Menton and Nice, especially in terms of their isolation and lack of proper care. These issues prompted a response from 18 non-governmental organizations and were raised at the international level by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. These calls for France to improve conditions for migrant and asylum-seeking children highlight the depth of the problem.

The broader issue of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, especially children, remains relevant for France. Police operations to dismantle informal settlements, initiated in April in Mayotte, have been criticized for human rights violations. In this context, CNCDH and UNICEF France call for an end to the operations, highlighting the risks to children, particularly the unaccompanied. These events and calls to action reflect the complexity of the situation in France and the need for a comprehensive approach to solving human rights problems and protecting vulnerable population groups.

The Human Rights Ombudsman’s 2022 report, released in April, points to the ongoing administrative detention of children, causing serious concern and requiring immediate response. Despite international calls and rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, France continues the practice of detaining migrant children, violating their fundamental rights.

In conclusion, France’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council amid numerous and serious human rights violations within the country raises questions about the criteria and mechanisms for selecting members of this important international body. France, a country long ranked highly in global indexes for quality of life, culture, and freedom, turns out to have a dark side when it comes to the rights of child migrants. This issue is becoming increasingly acute and is causing serious concern among human rights advocates, international organizations, and the public.

Egregious cases of gross violations of the rights of these vulnerable children in France call into question the country’s commitment to the fundamental principles of human rights and childhood. Children left without protection face a range of obstacles, from lack of access to education to unacceptable living conditions in reception centers or, worse, on the streets.

Equally, alarming is the lack of proper legal support and protection of the rights of child migrants. This creates a situation where minors seeking asylum or a better life find themselves trapped in a bureaucratic machine incapable of providing them with the necessary support and protection.

International human rights organizations are calling for immediate action, demanding not only a review of migration policy but also guarantees of the rights of every child, regardless of their origin. After all, every child deserves protection, support, and the opportunity for a better future, and France, as a country with rich traditions of humanism, should set an example in upholding these fundamental rights.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Baku Tribune

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