The Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, heard the first class action brought by six human rights groups against the state on Friday. The groups have alleged systematic racial profiling against black and Arab men during police patrols. The petition was originally created in 2021 by victims and organisations who are asking the court to make the government draft reforms limiting the police’s powers to conduct “stop and search”, rather than for damages. The petition also calls for the encounters with the police to be recorded and kept as evidence.The French police have already been accused of racial profiling in June 2023 after such a stop and search resulted in the death of Nahel Merzouk, a North African teenager.  Merzouk was shot by an officer during a traffic stop and his death caused widespread protests throughout France. Shortly after Nahel’s death, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) voiced concerns over the French police’s use of excessive force and use of racial profiling. These concerns were based on Article 14 of the ECHR and Article 1 of Protocol No 12 of the November 2000 Convention. The Committee also called for France to address the causes of racial discrimination and prosecute the perpetrators of Nahel’s death. The French government continually stress that there is a zero-tolerance policy for racial and ethnic discrimination by law enforcement. However, the court adviser and public rapporteur Esther de Moustier said that judges cannot bring about changes to government legislation and that the state cannot be held responsible if their own policing policies were not fully effective.The Conseil d’Etat has not published their judgement and other case details yet.

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