A French human rights activist, Assa Traoré, whose brother died in 2016 after being arrested by the police, is being intimidated by, among others, police unions because she has entered into a partnership with the UN to combat racism.
This is evident from a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that was published today. In this report, which rarely includes Western countries, France is called to task by the UN.
The report states that the UN highlighted Traoré’s harassment by police unions in a letter to the French government in November 2022. The commissioner also called on the government to protect Traoré, actively counter hate messages and threats and, if necessary, take legal action against the unions.
A few months later, the UN received a response from the French government, expressing support for Traoré and promising to tackle all harassment of the activist.
Police unions are unhappy with the UN’s support for Traoré. Various organizations regularly distribute intimidating messages about the activist via X, formerly Twitter. “This lying and radicalized activist spits on France,” writes SNCP, a union representing the leadership of the National Police, in one of the many messages dedicated to Traoré.
Other unions wrote a letter together in which they warned the government against a “counter-reaction” and a “war”. “We must stand up against this ‘plague’, we cannot stand this tyranny of violent minorities anymore,” it said.
The letter was published in the months when there were mass protests in the country following the death of 17-year-old Nahel, who was shot dead by a police officer.
The discussion about police brutality and institutional racism is a sensitive one in France, with on the one hand a group that experiences institutional racism and on the other hand a movement that firmly denies its existence. Experts say that the failure to recognize racism also has everything to do with the secular character of France.
Analyzes by human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and the Reuters news agency show that the majority of victims of police violence have an African or Islamic background. The UN has also reprimanded France and urged the country to do something about “deep-rooted racism”.
In addition to France, the UN report names 40 other countries where people are threatened or intimidated because they cooperate with the United Nations.
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