UN racism rapporteur criticises France’s contested immigration bill


PARIS: A fiercely contested immigration bill violates France’s constitutional commitment to equality and liberty, the UN special rapporteur on racism said, amid nationwide protests against the legislation that is backed by far-right lawmakers.

President Emmanuel Macron has made the bill a key plank of his second term but has been embarrassed by the support it drew from his arch rival, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, and referred the legislation to France’s Constitutional Council to check if it complies with the constitution.

The Council is due to announce its verdict on Thursday (Jan 25).

The bill includes migration quotas, obstacles to family reunification and delays to migrants’ access to welfare benefits, as well as articles cancelling automatic birthright citizenship and making it easier to deport non-French nationals.

“When we look at the French constitution or the way in which the head of state or many in positions of power speak, it’s [about] equality, but that is in strong contradiction to these policies,” Ashwini KP, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, told Reuters in a phone interview at the weekend.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people across France took part in the latest protests against the bill, denouncing it as a betrayal of French values, although opinion polls indicate public support for the legislation.



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