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(May 02, 2008) France's National Commission on Ethics and Security (Commission Nationale de Déontologie de la Sécurité), an independent administrative authority that has the power to investigate cases of abuses by police officers and others in charge of public security, released its annual activities report to the President of the Republic on April 8, 2008. The report notes the excessive use of preliminary detentions, cases of unjustified body searches, and inappropriate use of handcuffs. The commission is also concerned about a new trend, the filing of complaints by police officers against witnesses who come forward to report police violence.

The Commission cites the case of a witness who reported violence committed by two police officers against a man under a removal order whom they were escorting to the airport. The police officers filed a complaint of "calumnious denunciation" two days after being called before the Commission. The court found the witness guilty, and he was ordered to write a letter of apology and to give each police officer €100 (about US$156). The Commission was outraged by these proceedings that may result in "inadmissible pressures against witnesses of police violence."

The report also addresses access to medical care by individuals placed in police custody, detention centers, or jails during the period from 2001 to 2007. The Commission noted recurrent failures, including absence of medical assistance at night or during the weekend, long waits, and lack of respect for patient confidentiality during medical exams.

On the same day, the National Commission on Data and Liberties (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, CNIL), France's independent authority on data protection, made public a study on the use of video surveillance in France. It concludes that the current legal framework on video surveillance is difficult to comprehend and that an independent agency, more specifically the CNIL itself, should supervise the use of video surveillance to protect the public against any abuses.

The report and study are available in French on the Web sites of the Commissions, at and, respectively. (Isabelle Mandraud, Les abus "sécuritaires sous surveillance," LE MONDE, Apr. 8, 2008, available at (Archives).)

Author: Nicole Atwill More by this author
Topic: Police power More on this topic
Jurisdiction: France More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 05/02/2008