GENEVA—A UN human rights panel said Friday it was seriously concerned about French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to order the expulsion of foreigners convicted of involvement in recent rioting in French city suburbs.
The UN Committee Against Torture said the expulsion order “could have a discriminatory effect”.
“The committee underlines . . . that expulsion should not be used as a punitive measure,” the panel said in its concluding report on a regular examination of France’s application of international anti-torture legislation.
“The committee is seriously concerned about the statements by the interior minister calling on prefects to order the immediate expulsion of people sentenced during the rioting, regardless of their administrative status,” it added.
The panel of independent experts also recommended that, “if this measure is in conformity with the law”, French authorities should ensure that those concerned “had the right to a fair trial”.
The committee signalled that it was uneasy about a measure that would not only target irregular immigrants but also foreigners who had legally settled in France and naturalised French citizens who had their citizenship revoked by judicial authorities.
It also reiterated fears about potential expulsions to countries where the deportees could be tortured.
French authorities said Thursday that the total number of people arrested for being involved in three weeks of rioting in the suburbs had climbed to more than 4,700.
Sarkozy, who was vilified by many of the youths taking part in the riots, maintained a hard line throughout the crisis in the suburbs, which have a high proportion of immigrants.
Though most of the youths taking part in the rioting were French citizens, born in France, many have north and west African origins. French police said six to eight percent were not French nationals.