• France's news in English

Amnesty wants Hollande to up human rights effort

The Local · 24 May 2013, 16:09

Published: 24 May 2013 16:09 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Amnesty has called on French President Francois Hollande to fulfill the commitments he made during his electoral race to shore up human rights. However, the rights watchdog nonetheless noted a change in governmental attitude toward human rights since the days of Nicolas Sarkozy. 

In April 2012, the human rights organization sent a letter to all the presidential candidates vying for entry to the Élysée Palace, asking that they consider ten points of improvement to help safeguard human rights in the country.

"Well, firstly, Mr Sarkozy did not reply," Amnesty International France spokesman Patrick Delouvin told The Local.

"Mr Hollande sent us a long letter in response. We have some expectations on the new government." 

In a report entitled "Francois Hollande - One year later," released this week, the human rights organization went through its list of recommendations - ranging from asylum seekers to Roma, and looking at civil liberties.

It said that while Amnesty welcomed the legalization of same-sex marriage in France, there was nonetheless the need for further efforts to tackle homophobia. 

The treatment of asylum seekers and of the Roma people were also mentioned among the areas where France needed to take action to ensure human rights were protected.

The organization had addressed its concerns with the French prime minister in November, after several high-profile evictions of Roma took place over the summer. Amnesty noted that dismantling their settlements endangered the rights of those expelled to get access to housing, health and education. 

In the report, Amnesty said that the then presidential candidate's response at the time was to try to find "alternative solutions". 

"We must find solutions to combine the respect of private property, the safety of those affected(...) with the task of integrating the (Roma) population," Hollande is quoted as saying in the letter he sent Amnesty last year.

Delouvin said the situation for the Roma was probably the toughest point on the list of suggested improvements, and welcomed the inter-ministerial push for action, which tied the interior minister and six other ministers to a steering document on the issue. The government had also appointed a special rapporteur. 

"Unfortunately, the situation for Romas is sill very difficult we hope that in the future the (rapporteur's) work will permit some improvements locally," Delouvin said. 

Amnesty also said the procedures for how to welcome and house asylum seekers, as well as ensuring their access to the asylum application system, needed review. As did laws concerning foreign nationals in France. 

"The recommendations we made in 2012 came from difficulties in laws in France because of the presence of Mr Sarkozy," said Delouvin.

Story continues below…

"We had worse laws on asylum and foreigners in general, now we have recently had consultations with officials in the home office and we are awaiting new laws."

There was also praise for concrete action from the French president. The report authors credited Hollande with making sure France signed up to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as to the Arms Trade Treaty. 

Feedback on Hollande's push to speak up for human rights on the global scene was more tempered, however.

Amnesty said that while a speech at the Francophone Summit had highlighted such issues with the Congolese delegates, the French president had not followed through in certain key bilateral talks, including with Russia, Morocco and China

"Amnesty finds it regrettable that the president showed reluctance to address human rights on official visits," the report read.

Ann Törnkvist Follow Ann on Twitter here
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Kidnapped Riviera millioniare found tied up in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel found alive after by kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rent prices
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available