• April 18, 2010

The Celtic League has launched a strong attack on the standards of the French Police in relation to its treatment of juveniles particularly from ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

The League are urging the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) – the Council of Europe police and prisons watchdog – to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the detention of a young Breton nationalist who was
alleged to have daubed slogans in support of reunification. See these links:



The League have previously raised similar concerns with the CPT following the detention of a young Manx nationalist in relation to the alleged daubing of pro-independence slogans in the Isle of Man in 2009.

The text of the CPT correspondence is set out below:

“Hugh Chetwynd
CPT Secretariat
Council of Europe
F 67075 Strasbourg Cedex


Dear Sir,

I write to express our concern at the circumstances surrounding the brief detention of a juvenile by French Police in the town of Le Mans in Sarthe (Pays de Loire Region).

The young person, allegedly a Breton nationalist, was detained in relation to the daubing of slogans.

Our concerns relate to initial reports which allege that whilst in detention the person in question was subjected to verbal abuse. We are at the present time attempting to gather further information about the incident.

The Celtic League has raised the issue of the detention of juveniles in relation to alleged political offences with you previously.

We are concerned that the circumstances of this detention and the issues it raises will encourage the CPT to carry out a thorough review of the circumstances of detentions of young people at police stations in rural areas of France, particularly those from ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.

The CPT will be aware that the behaviour of the French police has in the past been problematic.

In 2006 in its report on France the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) said:

“Training of police officers

15. The Committee takes note of the updating of the ethics manual for the national police and of the information provided by the State party on the steps being taken to extend and improve the training given to police officers on the subject of respect for the physical and mental integrity of arrested, detained or imprisoned persons. However, the Committee remains concerned about the number and seriousness of the allegations it has received regarding the ill-treatment by law enforcement officers of detainees and other persons with whom they come in contact (art. 10).

The Committee recommends that the State party should take the necessary measures to ensure that the current reform aimed at extending and improving the training of police officers is implemented quickly and extended to all law enforcement officers.”

The CAT also specifically set out criteria to be followed in relation to those detained at Police stations in France:

“Provisions concerning the custody and treatment of arrested, detained and imprisoned persons

16. The Committee is concerned about the amendments to the Act of 9 March 2004 which, under the special procedure applicable in cases of organized crime and delinquency, delay access to a lawyer until the 72nd hour of police custody. These new provisions are likely to give rise to violations of article 11 of the Convention, since it is during the first few hours after an arrest, particularly when a person is held incommunicado, that the risk of torture is greatest. The Committee is also concerned about the frequent resort to pretrial detention and the duration of such detention (art. 11).”

The CAT also made specific comment in this report to the treatment of young people.

In addition the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in its 2008 report has also expressed strong reservations about the French state and the way its institutions, including the Police, deal with young people specifically those from ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.

We do hope that the CPT on its next visit to France will raise the issue the detention of young people at police stations and the need for this to be used as a last resort and only with appropriate safeguards to the well-being of the child.

In addition, and bearing in mind other matters raised with the Committee recently, we trust the CPT will urge member States to ensure that if a detained person (adult or juvenile) belongs to a ethnic or linguistic minority they are not exposed to verbal or physical abuse because of their ethnicity.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League”

Related article on Celtic News at:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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