Published: 2023-05-01 18:40
Last Updated: 2023-09-30 03:49
Several nations voiced concern at the United Nations Monday over police violence, including against protesters, in France, as the country headed into another day of mass demonstrations.
Attacks on migrants, racial profiling and religious intolerance were also raised during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) -- which all 193 UN countries must undergo every four years.
France must "take measures to, in a transparent manner, address allegations regarding excessive use of force by police and gendarmerie against protestors during demonstrations," Sweden's representative told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Other countries raised similar concerns, including Denmark, Liechtenstein and Norway, but also Russia, Venezuela and Iran -- three countries that themselves regularly face accusations of police violence and other serious and widespread human rights violations.
"We are concerned about the harsh and sometimes violent measures aimed at dispersing peaceful citizens," Russia's representative Kristina Sukacheva, told the council.
The criticism came as France braced for up to 1.5 million protesters to fill its streets to mark the May 1 workers' day, even as President Emmanuel Macron tries to steer the country on from a divisive pension law that has sparked anger, pan-bashing and social unrest.
It echoed growing outcry in France of the police for disproportionate use of force in dealing with the crowds, amid the months of protests over the move to raise France's pension age from 62 to 64.
During Monday's review, several countries including the United States and China called on France to do more to battle racial and religious discrimination.
US representative Kelly Billingsley said her country urged Paris to "expand efforts to counter crimes and threats of violence motivated by religious hatred such as antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate, including cases of harassment, vandalism, and assault."
The Chinese representative decried "a rise of racism and xenophobia" in France, urging it to "stop … measures that violate rights of migrants".
Brazil and Japan decried "racial profiling by security forces".
Sabrine Balim, a judicial advisor with the French interior ministry, told the council the use of force was "strictly supervised, controlled, and in the case of erroneous use, sanctioned."
She also stressed that "France condemns any form of racial profiling."