France - The CNCDH annual report on the fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia

The 30th annual report of the CNCDH on the fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia pays particular attention to hate messages on social media. The Commission is making recommendations in this regard, detailed in an opinion on the fight against online hate, also published on 8 July independently of the report.

More generally, French society is more tolerant of minorities compared to the previous year, despite a difficult context of pandemic and terrorism.

Racism and antisemitism are very present in hate speech conveyed on the internet, worries the CNCDH. It highlights the serious consequences on the lives of those affected. All the more so when this mechanism becomes viral and generates" several hundred messages per day ".

The Commission calls for the creation of an independent internet regulatory body in France to prevent the publication of hate speech and impose obligations on social networks and platforms. The opinion on online hatred recommends that this body be placed under the aegis of the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (Arcom), the establishment of which is provided for by the draft law on audiovisual communication.

Recalling its "commitment to respecting a balance between freedom of expression and the legitimate objective of the fight against online hatred ", the CNCDH recommends:
  • Strengthen the role of the State by giving more resources to the future Arcom and to justice to support victims and simplify procedures;
  • Create new obligations with regard to online platforms and social networks, and provide for sanctions in the absence of a content moderator;
  • Support and empower users from an early age (national action plan for digital education and citizenship).
While intolerance towards minorities continues to decline overall, prejudices remain stubborn :
72% of those questioned think that "Many immigrants come to France only to benefit from social protection " (they were 74% in 2019);
  • 59% believe that "Islam is a threat against the identity of France" (against 62% in 2019);
  • 58% consider that "the Roma live mainly from theft and trafficking" (67% in 2019);
  • 45% believe that "Jews have a special relationship with money" (48% in 2019);
  • 33% find that "the children of immigrants born in France are not really French" (40% in 2019).
As for the acts, the CNCDH report includes 1,461 racist incidents recorded between 2019 and 2020, including:
  • A 52% increase in acts against Muslims, or 234 reported incidents (mostly threats);
  • A 51% drop in antisemitic acts (339 incidents);
  • A drop of 22% for other racist incidents (888 incidents).
However, the report underlines the under-declaration of racist, antisemitic or xenophobic facts: out of 1.2 million people who are said to be victims each year, 7,283 cases were referred to justice the following year and 843 convictions were handed down. Fear of filing a complaint, difficulties in proving the facts partly explain these figures.

The report therefore recommends in particular:
  • Better training of police officers and gendarmes in issues related to racism to enable victims to carry out their procedures as effectively as possible;
  • Not to contribute to the transmission of racist clichés and stereotypes in the media, which must, on the contrary, denounce them;
  • Create posts of school mediators and relay teachers in the rectorates for the children of itinerant families.
Source: cncdh