An estimated 1.2 million people a year are victims of a racist attack in France, but there are less than 1,000 convictions annually for racially motivated crimes, a report has revealed.
“We can see that the institutions are failing to take account of real crime,” Magali Lafourcade, Secretary General of the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’Homme (CNCDH), which published the annual study, said.
Moreover, researchers found that only a small proportion of victims file complaints, for a variety of reasons, notably shame, fear of reprisals, or distrust in the police.
It is a vicious circle that Lafourcade hopes to combat: “If there are many complaints, many criminal proceedings and many convictions, we can hope that the phenomenon will decrease.”
Despite those figures, France as a nation is more tolerant than ever, the study found.
Since 2008, the CNCDH has been calculating society’s tolerance towards minorities, using a “tolerance index”. In 2022, France scored 68 points on a scale of 100, its highest rating – indicating that racist behaviours and opinions are less tolerated.
“Tolerance has never been so high in our country,” Lafourcade said.
But, the report found that not all ethnic minority groups in France are treated equally. A total 38 percent of French people still consider Islam to be “a threat to France’s identity” – a figure down from 44.7 percent in 2019.
The Roma community is the least tolerated minority group in France, with 45 percent of French people (down from 48.2 percent in 2019) convinced many in the Roma community live off the proceeds of crime.
The CNCDH has drawn up a list of 12 priority recommendations to reduce racial discrimination in France, advocating education as its main weapon in the ongoing fight against racism.
Measures include better training for school staff and education for digital citizenship, which is seen as “an essential element in the fight against online hate”.
The Commission also recommends human and financial investment by the government and a commitment to “change the way people look at and practice their lives in relation to Roma populations”, and increasing the use of online complaint mechanisms.
The CNCDH has published a report on racism and racial tolerance in France every year since 2008. Its in-depth 2022 study is available as a pdf here.