France must address deep issues of racial discrimination in its police, the United Nations said Friday, after a third night of unrest sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager.
The death of 17-year-old Nahel during a traffic stop has revived long-standing grievances about policing and racial profiling in France’s low-income and multi-ethnic suburbs.
“We are concerned by the killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by police in France on Tuesday,” UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a media briefing in Geneva.
“We note that an investigation has been launched into alleged voluntary homicide.
“This is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement.”
French President Emmanuel Macron was to lead a crisis meeting of ministers on Friday after a third night of protests saw cars torched, shops ransacked and hundreds arrested.
“We also emphasise the importance of peaceful assembly,” Shamdasani said.
“We call on the authorities to ensure use of force by police to address violent elements in demonstrations always respects the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination, precaution and accountability.
“Any allegations of disproportionate use of force must be swiftly investigated.”
Shamdasani said the UN rights office was concerned about the unrest that followed the shooting, and the large number of police officers injured.
“There has been quite a lot of looting and violence as well by certain elements who are using the protests for these purposes,” she said.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is a body of independent experts that monitors how states are implementing the convention on eliminating all forms of such discrimination.
In December, CERD voiced its own deep concerns about the frequent use in France of identity checks, discriminatory stops, and criminal fixed fines that the committee said disproportionately targeted members of certain minority groups.