GE.12-18019 (E) 051212 061212

Human Rights Council. Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review

Summary prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21

The present report is a summary of 29 stakeholders’ submissions to the universal periodic review. It follows the general guidelines adopted by the Human Rights Council in its decision 17/119. It does not contain any opinions, views or suggestions on the part of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), nor any judgement or determination in relation to specific claims. The information included herein has been systematically referenced in endnotes and, to the extent possible, the original texts have not been altered. As provided for in Resolution 16/21 of the Human Rights Council, where appropriate, a separate section is provided for contributions by the national human rights institution of the State under review that is accredited in full compliance with the Paris Principles. The full texts of all submissions received are available on the OHCHR website. The report has been prepared taking into consideration the periodicity of the review and developments during that period.

5. Freedom of religion or belief, expression, association and peaceful assembly, and right to participate in public and political life.

47. HRW and ICAAD recalled that France rejected recommendations during the previous UPR to repeal the 2004 ban on students wearing ostentatious religious symbols in public schools. They reiterated their objections to Law No. 2004-22, deeming it a violation to freedom of religion. ICAAD considered the disproportionate impact of the law on Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities. HRW noted that since 2008 France moved to impose further restrictions on religious expression and mentioned the enactment, in 2011, A/HRC/WG.6/15/FRA/38 GE.12-18019 of a law prohibiting the concealment of one’s face in public as an example. COE-ECRI made similar comments.

48. ICAAD recommended France to repeal Law No. 2004-22 and to set up an Independent Commission to Monitor the Impact the Law had on Muslim, Sikh, and Jewish Children. ICAAD also considered that an analysis of data on minorities would allow France to tailor its laws and policies to empower its citizens rather than discriminating against them. ICAAD stressed that the key to a pluralistic society was to recognize that a one size fits all approach stood in contrast to valuing diversity. HRW recommended that France repeal or amend the law instituting the ban on full-face concealment in public spaces.

49. The European Office for Human Rights of the Church of Scientology (EOHRCS), la Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience (CAP), and the Centre of Information and Counseling on New Spiritualities (CICNS) noted with concern a continued repressive policy towards minorities of religion or belief and new religious movements, despite recommendations made to France during its first UPR. These organizations decried the role played by the Inter-ministerial Mission of Vigilance and Fight against Sectarian Drifts (MIVILUDES). CICNS considered that MIVILUDES and public authorities continued to use the notion of ‘sectarian abuse’ based on a hazy and ambiguous list of behaviours, allowing them to place an arbitrary ‘sectarian’ label on any spiritual, educational or therapeutic minority.

50. CICNS recommended that France put an end to the propaganda ostracizing spiritual, educational or therapeutic minorities; to handle possible abuse in those minorities on the basis of concrete elements and established facts punishable under criminal law; and to create an independent and competent observatory of these minorities.

51. Le Conseil représentatif des Associations Noires (CRAN) took note of the significant number of members of visible minorities in the new Government but regretted the fact that the majority of them were in the House of Deputies or were serving as elected municipal officials. ODVV stressed that although Muslims made up 10 per cent of the population, they were not represented in Parliament or the main power echelons.

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