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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                            

French Republic (France)

The country has not seen a large-scale terrorist attack since 2015, though the state of emergency persisted throughout most of 2017, and was eventually replaced by the new antiterrorism legislation.

In 2016, the UN Committee against Torture criticized France over its use of excessive force during police operations conducted under the state of emergency.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: France

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in France.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on France

Executive Summary, 24 March 2020

[accessed 31 May 2020]

[Translation to English by Google Translate]

The vast majority of persons deprived of their liberty with whom the delegation spoke said that they had been treated properly by police officers, during their arrest, their detention or their retention in the waiting zone. However, in all of the administrative detention centers (CRAs) visited, a small number of people alleged to have been physically abused by border police officials, most often in the context of verbal altercations. Several people also reported insults, particularly of a racist nature, and disrespectful remarks by border police officials, in the CRAs as well as in the waiting area (terminals and ZAPI 3) of the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. The Committee recommends that the French authorities remind border police officers assigned to CRAs and waiting areas at regular intervals that any form of ill-treatment, including insulting words or disrespectful behavior, is unacceptable and will be A small number of those detained also alleged that they had been subjected to violence by co-detainees. However, these people indicated that staff generally acted quickly, and the delegation witnessed on two occasions appropriate staff intervention during physical altercations between those detained. However, the delegation noted a number of factors that could exacerbate tensions between people detained in ARCs, including the near-total lack of activity and little contact with staff. The Committee encourages the French authorities to remain vigilant and to use all the means at their disposal to prevent acts of violence and intimidation between detained persons, in particular the development of positive relationships between staff and detained persons, based On the concepts of protection and dynamic security, as well as a satisfactory offer of activities, are decisive factors in this context.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: France

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 18 July 2021]


Following several protests across the country against police violence and racism, on June 8, then interior minister Castaner announced adoption of new measures, including banning police use of chokeholds, improving and continuing training, requiring law enforcement officers to make their police identification number visible, increasing the use of body cameras, suspending officers under investigation for racism, and strengthening the IGPN to make it more “coherent” and independent.


The CPT visited five administrative detention centers, four waiting areas, and the Franco-Italian border to examine the situation of persons not admitted to French territory. In its March 24 report, the CPT expressed concern regarding the austerity of the facilities, the absence of activities for detainees, and the lack of contact with staff. The visit to the “sheltering” premises at a police station in Menton-Pont-Saint-Louis for detained migrants revealed substandard physical conditions. A small number of detainees also claimed to have been subjected to violence by codetainees.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


The country has not seen a large-scale terrorist attack since 2015, though the state of emergency persisted throughout most of 2017, and was eventually replaced by the new antiterrorism legislation. In 2016, the UN Committee against Torture criticized France over its use of excessive force during police operations conducted under the state of emergency.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/FRA/CO/3 (2006)

[accessed 27 February 2013]

Provisions concerning the custody and treatment of arrested, detained and imprisoned persons

16. The Committee is concerned about the amendments to the Act of 9 March 2004 which, under the special procedure applicable in cases of organized crime and delinquency, delay access to a lawyer until the 72nd hour of police custody. These new provisions are likely to give rise to violations of article 11 of the Convention, since it is during the first few hours after an arrest, particularly when a person is held incommunicado, that the risk of torture is greatest. The Committee is also concerned about the frequent resort to pretrial detention and the duration of such detention (art. 11).

The Committee recommends that the State party should take appropriate legislative measures to guarantee access to a lawyer within the first few hours of police custody, with a view to avoiding any risk of torture, in accordance with article 11 of the Convention. In this connection, the Committee also recommends that the State party should extend to adults the practice of filming minors in police custody. The Committee further recommends that measures should be taken to reduce the length of pretrial detention and its use.

Impartial investigation

20. The Committee continues to be concerned about the system of discretionary prosecution, which gives State prosecutors the option of not prosecuting the perpetrators of acts of torture and ill-treatment in which police officers are implicated, or even of not ordering an investigation, which is clearly contrary to article 12 of the Convention (art. 12).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation (A/53/44, para. 147) that, in order to comply with article 12 of the Convention in letter and in spirit, the State party should consider abrogating the system of discretionary prosecution so as to remove all doubts regarding the obligation of the competent authorities to launch impartial inquiries systematically and on their own initiative in all cases where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction, in the spirit of the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/79/Add.80, para. 15), which calls on the State party to “take appropriate measures to fully guarantee that all investigations and prosecutions are undertaken in full compliance with the provisions of articles 2, paragraphs 3, 9 and 14 of the Covenant”.

Right of complaint

22. While welcoming the establishment of the National Commission on Security Ethics (CNDS), the Committee is concerned that the Commission cannot accept cases referred to it directly by a person who has been subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, but only cases referred to it by a member of Parliament, the Prime Minister or the Children’s Ombudsman (art. 13).

The Committee recommends that the State party should take the necessary measures to allow the CNDS to accept cases referred to it directly by any person who claims to have been subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in any territory under its jurisdiction, in accordance with article 13 of the Convention.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Concerns about the promptness, effectiveness and independence of investigations into cases of deaths in police custody remained. Investigations into four long-standing cases of death in custody were closed.


The Criminal Code continued to lack a definition of torture in line with international standards. There was a lack of prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. On 19 April, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture called for “zero tolerance” of police ill-treatment and for limiting the use of electro-stun devices.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 1 January 1, 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 28 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were occasional reports that law enforcement officers used excessive force, including during the civil unrest that occurred in October and November. There were reports that security forces abused detainees. Authorities investigated reports of abuse by officials and punished those responsible when the reports were substantiated.

However, an April Amnesty International (AI) report claimed that the government's continued failure to address abuses has led to a climate of effective impunity for law enforcement officials, resulting in a lack of public confidence that law enforcement officials always operate under the rule of law and are held accountable for their actions. In its annual report for 2004 released on April 16, the NCCPSF cited "significant breaches" by those involved in public security and an increase in complaints of police abuse and violence. The number of cases submitted to court increased from 70 in 2003 to 107 in 2004.

The investigation of the February 2004 case of three police officers who allegedly beat and sodomized a driver and a fourth officer who allegedly destroyed evidence was ongoing at year's end.

On July 13, the NCCPSF issued a decision in the April 2004 case of Sukhwinder Singh, an Indian asylum seeker who alleged a police officer beat him and stole his money while apprehending him for illegally operating as a street vendor. The NCCPSF found that the actions of the police officer involved were not only against the code of conduct for security forces but subject to criminal prosecution. The NCCPSF did not present specific recommendations on the case because the officer involved had already been fired and was under criminal investigation.

Two of three Lille police officers who allegedly raped a prostitute in 2003 were released under strict judicial control and charges were dropped against the third. The case had not gone to court by year's end.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- France",, [accessed <date>]