Elisabeth Borne presents a plan to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination

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Systematize testing on discrimination in employment, “develop tools” with digital platforms and influencers, make possible an “arrest warrant”: the government announces on Monday a plan to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and origin-based discrimination.

This 2023-2026 plan, which will be detailed by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and the Minister responsible for Equal Opportunities Isabelle Rome, in the presence of ten other ministers, provides for a series of measures which affect different sectors, ranging from education employment, justice or sport.

“Never give in to trivialization”

“For more than 5 years, we have been fighting all forms of hatred and tracking down all forms of discrimination”, declared Elisabeth Borne, adding that this plan should “make it possible to better name and better measure” these phenomena, “to better educate and train, to to better sanction the authors of unacceptable remarks or acts and finally to always better support the victims”.

“To never give in to the trivialization of racism, in all its forms, and of anti-Semitism, we must first educate”, also pleaded Isabelle Rome. “And at the same time, we have to be tough on those spreading this poison.”

Eisabeth Borne – whose father, a Jew, was deported, then ended his life when his daughter was 11 years old – provides in particular in this plan, “the organization of a visit of history or memory linked to racism , anti-Semitism or anti-Gypsyism for each pupil during his or her schooling”. A “strengthening” of the training of teachers and state civil servants in general (security forces, Pôle emploi reception agents, etc.) is also planned, and must begin “from the beginning of 2023”.

“Graduated logic”

The government also intends to create aggravated penalties in the event of “non-public offenses of a racist or anti-Semitic nature committed in the exercise of their function by persons holding public authority or charged with a public service mission”. Among its flagship measures, the plan also plans to “systematize testing on discrimination in employment”, in different sectors, private and public, in consultation with trade unions and employers’ organizations and associations in particular.

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Testing consists of sending two identical CVs for the same job offer with the only differences, in particular the origin of the candidate. In a “graduated logic”, if the bad practices persist, the government does not exclude sanctions and to resort to the practice of “name and shame”, publishing the names of the not very virtuous companies.

In order to “promote digital citizenship”, the plan plans to involve “platforms and influencers, in a collaborative work to develop tools aimed at improving the behavior of Internet users”. As with victims of sexual violence, the government wants to secure the filing of a complaint. The police are invited to better collect and process them, via “partial anonymization” or thanks to “an evaluation grid”.

A warrant of arrest

The government still intends to include in the law “the possibility” of issuing an “arrest warrant” in the event of “racist or anti-Semitic convictions”, “dispute of crimes against humanity” or “apology for crimes against humanity or war crimes”. This is to allow the execution of sentences “when the convicted perpetrators think of escaping it by fleeing abroad”.

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, in 2021, “7,721 cases of a racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic nature were the subject of legal action”. In total “1,382 convictions (were) pronounced for racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic acts or committed with this aggravating circumstance”. This plan, which will be monitored every six months, is the result of extensive consultation. In terms of the budget, each ministry concerned has made commitments, but the overall envelope has not been communicated.

The majority of the measures do not involve legislative provisions, but if necessary, they will be registered “as the opportunities of the texts”, indicates the government. In March 2018, Édouard Philippe presented a previous plan, which focused in particular on the fight against hateful content online. He was already planning to strengthen the training of “all personnel” in education.

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