Comparative law and justice/France

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Basic Information[edit]

Geographical Demographics[edit]

France is a country in Europe, which sits next to the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel to the Northwest; Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the North; Switzerland and Italy to the East; and Spain to the South. The total landmass of France, which includes it's colonies (Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe) is 643,427 square miles. France is the 42nd largest country in the World.

France has many mountains, rivers and other geographical features, but the most prominent mountains and rivers include:

  • Mount Blanc (Northwestern France)
  • Maritime Alps
  • Pyrenees Mountains (Between France and Spain)
  • Seine River (Northeast France)
  • Loire (Longest River)
  • Rhone (Runs from Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean)

France is famous for it's large cities, with it's largest being Paris, which has a population of about 11.8 Million. The second largest is Lyon, with a population of about 1.7 Millon.[1]

Map of France[2]

People[edit]

France is a country with a population of about 64 Million. The age demographics in France range from: 18.6% for ages 0-14 (Male: 6, 129,729; Female: 5,838,925); 65% for ages 15-64 (Male:20,963,124; Female: 20,929,280); and 16.4% for ages 65 and older (Male: 4,403,248; Female: 6,155,767).[3]

The official language in France is French, however many other languages are spoken in this country. The most common secondary languages are Occitan (12%), German (3%), Italian (1.7%), Arabic (1.7%), and Breton (1.2%). Other smaller language groups are Flemish, Basque, Catalan, and Corsu.[4]

Ethnic Groups[edit]

Although most people in France are French nationals, other ethnic groups do exist. Major ethnic groups on France include North African/Berbers, Basques and the Turkish.[5] North Africans arrived in France after France colonized Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia in the 1800's.[6] Basques were a group of people who were native to France before it became a nation-state.[7] The Turkish people arrived in France when France made a contract with Turkey to bring in workers in the 1960's and 1970's.[8] France does not record percentages of ethnic groups, in an attempt to prevent racism.

Religion[edit]

France does not have an official religion. Most of the people of France are Roman Catholic (83-88%). Religious minorities in France are Protestant (2%), Jewish(1%), Muslim(5-10%) and Unaffiliated(4%).[9] Most Christians in France do not attend church. Only about five percent attend regularly. Muslims in France tend to be have more religiosity because many feel as though France is pushing against them.[10]

Economic Development, Health, and Education[edit]

The GDP of France was $2.097 trillion in 2009. However, the GDP per capita was $32,600 in 2009.[11] The average annual income was $26,416.[12]

The key industries in France are machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, textiles, food processing and tourism. The most imported items were machinery, vehicles, oil, aircraft, plastics and chemicals. The most exported items are transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, and beverages.[13]

The average life expectancy in France is 77.79 years for males and 84.33 years for females. The infant mortality rate in 3.33 deaths for every 1,000 births. This makes France 217th in the world for its infant mortality rate.[14] In general, France is a relatively healthy country.

In France, ninety-nine percent of people are literate for both males and females. The average education attainment is until sixteen years old.[15]

History[edit]

France would be considered in its modern form after the French Revolution, in which the aristocracy of King Louis XVI was overthrown. On August 29, 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man was created. The principles of the declaration, which are, Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) still exist today. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte came to power and was crowned French emperor. Napoleon conquered France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Napoleon was defeated in Russia at Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon was replaced by King Louis XVIII and until 1870, France was ruled by emperors with continually changing lineage.

In 1870, Paris was conquered by Germany and the Third Republic began in 1871, which ended the French monarchy.

Charles De Gaulle.[17]

In 1917 (World War I), France defeated Germany for a short while. In World War II, Germany overran Germany. At the end of World War II, Charles de Gaulle was set as the head of state. During this time, De Gaulle released many colonies from France's influence (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya).[18]

Past/Current Colonies of France[edit]

The past colonies of France include, but not limited to are: Florida and Louisiana, Canada, Haiti(Saint-Domingue), Dominica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Annam, Paracel Islands, Lebanon, Syria, India, French Equatorial Africa, Mauritius, Vanuatu and French Polynesia.

The current colonies of France are French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe.[19]

Governance[edit]

France is a republic and its officials are elected by French citizens. France is organized into twenty-two administrative regions, which also include ninety-six departments. There are also four overseas departments which include Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Reunion.

France's "Constitution of the Fifth Republic" was approved on September 28, 1958. In the executive branch in France there is the president, prime minister, the heads of the ministries. The president controls the armed forces, prime minister and the cabinets. The president also may rule by dictatorship in emergencies with the approval of the National Assembly. The president appoints the prime minister (head of government) and the prime minister controls the minsters and the secretaries of state.[20] In order to become president, you must be at least twenty-three years old and be sponsored by 500 elected officials from thirty or more departments.[21]

The legislature is made up of a bi-cameral parliamentary body, known as the National Assembly and the Senate, that meets once a year for a nine-month session. However, the president may call the parliament into session if need be. All laws are made by the parliament. The National Assembly is the more powerful of the two bodies and has the last say on all legislative measures. The parliament has very few checks on the executive branch. To become part of the National Assemble you must be at least twenty-three years old and of French nationality and also meet voter eligibility requirements. Similarly, to be elected as a Senator you must meet all previous requirements, but be thirty years of age.[22]

French Government.[23]

For law to be made in France a bill must be proposed to the Parliament and passed by the Constitutional Acts, Legislation and General Administration Committee. After, the bill is sent to the Senate and then also the National Assembly. There is usually a presentation of the bill publicly and then motions are made on the bill, with debates of its clauses. At end, a parts of the bill are voted on by the parliament by quorum. There is also a second vote on the bill after second deliberations, where a joint committee discusses the bill in its entirety. Once the deliberations and amendments to the bill are made are finished, the bill is voted on by parliament. Once the bill is approved by parliament, it is reviewed by the Constitutional Council. If the bill does not violate any constitutional articles, then the bill is presented to the president and prime minister to be signed. At this end, the bill is finally law and can be publicized.[24]

The judicial branch in France is made up of ordinary courts, which handle disputes between people and corporations, in areas such as family, inheritance, or criminal law. The highest ordinary court in France is the Court of Appeals. Also, France has administrative courts, in which people can sue the government. The Council of State is a the appeals court in the administrative court system, which addresses citizens grievances. France also has a constitutional court, which is the Constitutional Council. Unlike in the United States, the Constitutional Council only reviews cases brought to it by parliament, the prime minister or the president. The Constitutional Council also only reviews legislation before it is put into effect. Judges in France are not elected.[25]


Family of Law[edit]

France has been traditionally a civil law country since the French Revolution. The civil law tradition in France was influenced by Roman and Italian scholars. After the French Revolution, laws were codified in the Civil Codes on France in 1804 and the system was created to resist the influence of judges who had abused their power in the past. The French codes have been used for over 200 years. France is probably the most well known civil law country.[26]

France also has two families of law, private law which is the body of law governing individuals, and public law, which applies to public officials acting in the scope of their office. Public law uses a different court system, in which the fundamental element is the Administrative Tribunal. [27]

Elections[edit]

France holds presidential, general (National Assembly), Senate, European, regional, cantonal and municipal elections.

The electoral system in France is unique and has a two-round ballot system for presidential and legislative elections. The the first round are large group of candidates from differing parties are voted for and then two candidates are chosen to be voted for in the second round. From the second round, a winner is chosen by majority vote. On the whole, the French electoral system is a single member plurality. For local elections, a proportional electoral system is most often used.[28]

In order to be elected in regional, cantonal and municipal elections you must be eighteen years old and a French national and/or a national of a member state of the European Union. The president is elected directly every five years. The president may only serve for two terms. Polling for presidential elections are referred to as "scrutin uninominal majoritaire à deux tours", literally a two-round single name first-past-the-post poll." Deputies to the National Assembly are elected directly every five years. In total, there are 557 seats. In the Senate, there are 331 seats and they are elected by an electoral college every six years. European elections, which are for the European Union Parliament are every five years. Since France is part of the European Union, it has seventy-eight seats in the parliament of the European Union. Regional and cantonal elections elect councilors, which are part of regional councils, and cantons, which are part of the general council directly every six years. Lastly, municipal representatives to municipal councils are elected directly every six years, as well.[29]

National Assembly[30]

In order to vote in France, you must be a French national. Suffrage for French nationals is universal, free, and private. French voters must registered and be eighteen years of age.[31]

Judicial Review[edit]

France follows an inquisitorial system in its courts, which follows along with its civil law roots.

Judicial review in France does not have a long history. Judicial review in France has been resisted since the French Revolution in the 1800's. Judicial review began to surface with the creation of the Constitutional Council in 1958. The Constitutional Council does not review laws that are already in practice, but instead judges bills from parliament that have not been signed into law. However, the Constitutional Council may review legislation that is currently law by referral. Bills must be approved by the Constitutional Council, in order for them to be signed into law. In the Council's early years, many complained that the Council stepped on the toes of the legislature and prevented it from making law. However, in recent years, the Constitutional Council has been accepted as part of the law making process.[32]

Judges on the Constitutional Council are appointed every nine years, in which three are appointed by the President, three by the President of the National Assembly and three by the President of the Senate.[33]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]

The French judicial system is an independent body in the French government and has the power of enforcing laws, while the legislature and executive have the powers of passing laws and implementing laws, respectively. The French courts have several fundamental principles including but not limited to, "access to justice for all," "access to justice for all," "independence and neutrality of the courts," "permanence," "right of a fair trial," and "right to an appeal."[34]

The court system in France is "a double pyramid structure." There are two parts of the courts in France, which are the administrative and judicial courts. The administrative courts settle disputes between the government/public "authorities" and the people. The administrative courts are set up in a hierarchy with the Administrative Tribunal at the bottom, the Administrative Appeal Court in the middle and the Counseil d'Etat (Council of State) at the top. In the administrative courts, people can appeal decisions to the court directly higher in the hierarchy.[35]

Palais de Justice in Nice, France[36]

The judicial courts are made up of even more courts, than the administrative courts. Split into two, the judicial courts have both penal and civil sections. In the penal section there are the Court of Positions (for serious criminal cases), the Criminal Court, the Court of Police and some Juvenile Courts. The civil courts are made up of the Judge of Nearby (disputes less than 4,000 euros), the Court Proceedings Tribunal(disputes with less than 10,000 euros), the High Court(disputes involving 10,000 ore more euros), the Board of Industrial Disputes, the Court Cases of Social Security,the Assize Court and the Commercial Court. The penal and civil courts all can have appeals brought to their respective Court of Appeal and from there appeals can be brought to the Court of Cassation.[37]

The specialized courts in France include the Disputes Tribunal and the Constitutional Council. The Disputes Tribunal is responsible for handling disputes between the judiciary and administrative branches of government. The disputes court is made up of the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General, and eight judges.[38] The Constitutional Council reviews legislation of the legislature before it is made into law and also decides constitutional questions in France. The court is made of of eleven members who are appointed by the President of France. The members serve a nine year non-renewable term. Past presidents are also members of the Council. The Constitutional Council is the highest court in France, and is the only court with the power of judicial review.[39]

Trial System and Legal Players[edit]

In France, in which there is an inquisitorial system, the defendant in a trial is presumed to be innocent.[40] Unlike in the United States, the purpose of the French trial is to the find the facts of a case. In France, the main player in a trial is the judge. Since many French courts do not have juries, the judge plays an active role in the investigation and questioning of the defendant. The lawyer also plays a passive role in French courts. The major action is between the defendant, witnesses and the judge(s).[41]

The players in the French judicial system are the judge, the lawyers and the juries. In ordinary and administrative courts, the judges are chosen from a selective examination, lateral entry or nomination. In order to take the examination to be a judge, the prospect must complete a master's program in law. If chosen from a high scoring examination, the prospective judge must complete attend a judicial training school for one year and also a two year judicial placement. After training, the prospective judge takes an exit exam and is appointed in a vacant seat. For lateral entry a lawyer, normally a prosecutor, applies to become a judge after about eight years of experience. Also, a prosecutor may be nominated to a vacant seat by the Ministry of Justice. Judges in France are viewed as public servants and are usually not as prestigious as judges in the United States.[42]

Lawyers in France are trained in universities and must receive a bachelor's degree. After college, prospective lawyers must pass a an entrance exam to a training program in law. Upon completion, the student must also pass an exit exam and then enters the legal profession, in a specialty of their choice. Lawyers in France are also viewed as public servants and work to advocate for their clients or the state. As said, lawyers do not take an active role in trials, but work to make sure the process is fair.[43]

The jury in France is not a largely used function in French courts. Juries only appear in serious criminal cases with a sentence of ten years or higher. Juries are never used in civil or administrative trials. Jury selection in France is down by a random drawing of names and normally takes about half an hour to complete. Juries in France have equal footing with the judge and listen to questioning and decide the guilt or innocence of the accused and also the sentence.[44]

Legal Financial Remedy[edit]

In France and many civil law countries, the concept of punitive damages is looked down upon and have almost never been used in practice. However, there are changes in the area of punitive damages being proposed to the Constitutional Council. In France, compensatory damages are sometimes given as a remedy in court cases, but never punitive damages. Punitive damages (exemplary) are said to be against the fundamental goals of the civil law system.[45]

Punishment[edit]

Imprisonment rates in France are low in comparison to those in the United States. According to Defending Justice Organization, the United States incarcerates 726 people for every 100,000 people, while France only incarcerates 91 people for every 100,000 people.[46] Typical punishments for crimes such as theft, rape, assault, treason, and murder are imprisonment for varying lengths and and/or a fine. According to the French penal code, the punishment for murder is thirty years imprisonment, but when the murder is preceded by a felony, the punishment is life imprisonment. The punishment for rape and theft is fifteen and three years in prison and/ or a 45,000 euro fine, respectively. When fines are used as punishment, the fine is predetermined in the French penal code by offense.[47]

Capital punishment has been a large part of France's history, but has been abolished since October 9, 1981. The last state executions were in 1977. Also, France refuses to extradite people to countries who use the death penalty.[48] In terms of corporal punishment, corporal punishment is unlawful as a state punishment or in prisons. In schools and in the home, there is no prohibition against corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is used under the "right of correction" under customary law.[49]

Legality of corporal punishment in Europe: * Green: Corporal punishment prohibited in schools and the home * Blue: Corporal punishment prohibited in schools only * Red: Corporal punishment not prohibited[50]

Prison Conditions[edit]

According to the French government, prison conditions in France are been improved in recent years. The purpose of prison time, according to the government is for rehabilitation. Prisoners are allowed to have family contact and even people with life sentences have the option of parole[51] However, according to non-governmental sources, prisons are overcrowded and deteriorating. It had also been noted that French prisons are comparable to medieval dungeons. The overuse of handcuffs has been denounced in French prisons since a woman in a French prison was injured when she was giving birth in 2003. French prisoners are said to have serious physical and mental abuse and problems.[52]

Juvenile Justice[edit]

In terms of juveniles in the French criminal justice system, there are juvenile courts and prisons. France considers a person to be liable for their crimes when they are "capable of discernment." In France, juveniles under ten years old can receive no penalties for a crime they commit because they are not yet able to discern between right and wrong. For juveniles aged ten to thirteen can only receive educational penalties for crimes. Juveniles aged thirteen to sixteen may receive criminal sanctions for criminal actions, but only half of the sentence an adult would receive. Legal acts to reform the juvenile justice system in France have led to more alternatives to prison time and better organization to the juvenile justice system.[53]

Disparities in Criminal Justice[edit]

In recent years, with the migration of Muslim and Middle Eastern immigrants to France, there have been significant reports of hate crimes and discrimination against these immigrants. France has a no head scarf ban, which makes it illegal to wear a headscarf in public, which has spurred from Muslim immigration to the country. French prisons are now becoming more crowded with Middle Eastern and Muslim immigrants at increasing rates. Also, the current French president, Sarkozy, has "proposals to strip French nationals of foreign origin of their citizenship if they endanger the lives of police officers." Even though reports of disparities in law have been reported, it is very difficult to find relevant statistics due to the fact that France refuses to report information on discrimination, in order to deter hate crimes, supposedly.[54]

Law Enforcement[edit]

There are two overseeing law enforcement bodies in France, which are the Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie Nationale. The police structure can be defined as Centralized Multiple Coordinated System because the bodies operate in defined jurisdictions but sometimes have overlapping authority.[55]

The Police Nationale are composed of eleven directorates and departments. There are 126,000 police officers and administrative employees that work in the Police Nationale. One of the most notable departments is the Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire, which investigates crimes and assists the judiciary. In general, the Police Nationale have the responsibility of making sure laws are followed. The Police Nationale is under the Ministry of the Interior and the General Directorate is responsible for:


  • General Inspectorate of the National Police
  • Central Directorate of Judiciary Police
  • Directorate of Territory Surveillance
  • Central Directorate of Public Security
  • Central Directorate for General Information
  • Central Directorate of Border Police
  • Central Service of the Republic's Security Forces
  • Technical International Police Co-operation Service
  • Protection of High-Profile Personalities Department

In order to be an officer in the Police Nationale you must be at least nineteen years old and. The officers in the Police Nationale are selected by examination. After examination, prospective officers are trained in specialized schools for one year. Often times, ranking in the Police Nationale depends on the amount of education you have.[56]

The Gendarmerie Nationale is a part of the Armed Forces and is under the Ministry of Defense. About 90,000 people work for the Gendarmerie Nationale. The main job of the Gendarmerie Nationale is to keep public order and also investigate some crimes.[57] The Gendarmerie Nationale are divided into 3,600 divisions and are given specific tasks. After competitive examination, prospective Gendarme Officers must attend the Academy of National Gendarmerie Officers for two years and take courses in "Law, International Relations, Crime, Public Order, Human Resources Management, Relations with Medias, Human Rights, Foreign Languages, Crisis Management."[58] The Gendarmerie Nationale work in regional divisions and also consist of the Gendarmerie Departmental and the Gendarmerie Mobile. The Gendarmerie Departmental are separated into brigades who investigate crimes, prevent juvenile delinquency and patrol roads, mountains and air traffic. The Gendarmerie Mobile have semi-military training and act as "anti-riot police." The squadrons have tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters.[59]

On the local level and under the control of mayors is the Police Municipale. The Police Municipale are responsible for urban policing and keeping public order. There are about 20,000 municipal police officers. They are most similar to the police officers you would think of in the United States. The Police Municipale work locally, while other departments noted work on a national level. The Police Municipale supplement the Gendarmerie and the Police.[60]

In a public opinion sense, the majority of French people believe that the police are efficient (65%).[61]

Corruption[edit]

France is noted on a scale of one to ten to have a corruption level of 6.9, as reported by Transparency International. In comparison, the United States is reported to have a corruption level of 7.5.[62] According to the Global Integrity Report France has a history of high corruption levels, which is due to "poor accountability regulations for executive, legislative and judicial branches." In total, France's integrity rating is seventy-eight out of one hundred. In terms of law enforcement, French law enforcement if on the positive side of the median for when compared to fifty other countries.[63]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

In general, France does not have a large amount of crime. The most common crimes are pick-pocketing, break-ins, burglary, and robberies. France is well known for theft, especially towards travelers.In recent years, France has had problems controlling hate crimes that are “racist, xenophobic, and Anti-Semetic” in nature. In 2007, there were 707 reported hate crimes committed.[64]

In terms of common crimes in France (theft, burglary, drug crime and robbery), there were 10.8 robberies for every 100,000 people. Burglaries were more frequent with 622 for every 100,000 people. Also, car theft was reported to be 323 for every 100,000 people. There were 57 out of 100,000 people that committed drug crimes in France.[65]

For more serious crimes, France had low rates for kidnapping, sexual assault (rape), and assault. There were four kidnapping for every 100,000 people. Additionally, there were l7.3 sexual assaults (per 100,000) and 180.1 assaults (per 100,000).[66] Lastly, there were 1,051 homicides reported in France from 2003-2008.[67]

Statistical Sources[edit]

President Nicolas Sarkozy[68]

The statistics are from the Eleventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems. The statistics are taken from two criminal justice surveys and complied by the United Nations.

It was noticed that France did not list statistics for corruption and several other types of crime. It may be possible that the country may be hiding some types of crime, by not reporting them. The homicide statistics came from the CIA World Factbook and the World Health Organization.

Public Opinion[edit]

Only about sixty-five percent of French people believe that their police is efficient. However, seventy-seven percent feel safe overall.[69]

In the past year, citizens in France have been speaking out against President Nicolas Sarkozy's policy on crime prevention. Sarkozy has been reported to say that "the problems created by the behavior of certain travelers and Roma," whose nomadic lifestyle leaves them with 'no assimilation into [the] communities' they live near." In essence, these "travelers" are causing a lot of the crime problems in France. After this incident, the president was left with a twenty-five percent approval rating and negative commentary from several human rights organizations.[70]

Rights[edit]

Family Law[edit]

Marriage and Divorce[edit]

Much of the Family Law in France is outlined in the French Civil Code in Section V, which includes the code "Of Marriage." Specifically in Article 147, polygamy is outlawed and one can only marry one person at a time. In France, both men and women must be eighteen years old to marry, however females between age fifteen and eighteen can marry with parental consent. Marriages must be certificated by the town or area one lives in also require identifying documentation, such as a birth certificate and witnesses. Both parties in a marriage must consent. Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in France, but civil unions (pacte civile de solidarité) between same-sex partners is legal. Civil unions or pacts allow couples to have income tax and property benefits within France.[71]

In order to procure a divorce in France according to the Civil Code (Section VI: "Of Divorce"), married couples can only obtain a divorce when both parties consent, when the couple has lived separately for six years, or by fault (i.e. adultery). A couple that wishes to divorce must petition a judge to procure legal divorce. Upon completion, the judge may call for certain actions of behalf of each party, for example, the delivery of belongings to the respective party or for the division of property. To be remarried after a divorce, a woman must wait 300 days, in order to watch for pregnancy. Also, compensatory benefits may be paid to the divorcee if the judge sees need. A divorcee may also receive payments, similar to alimony until they procure another marriage.[72]

French Family Law[73]

Children/Juveniles[edit]

In terms of children, the Civil Code also outlines when and for what the State is allowed to step in. A judge of the tribunal de grande instance is able to decide in cases where the welfare of the child is at stake, to remove the child from the parents and give custody to a third party. In cases of divorce, the state will intervene with custody battles, but it is assumed that both the mother and father will have personal relations with their children. By weighing the welfare of the child, a judge will give primary custody to one parent over another, but the other parent must have access to the child and notification of the child's movement. The parent without custody may also be asked to pay for the support of the child. The legitimacy of children is also very important in France, as to which the State will investigate complaints and paternity out of wedlock can be declared by law.[74]

Adoption[edit]

For adoption, plenary adoption will be granted to married couples who have been married for two years or more and when both are twenty-eight years old or older. Adoption can be granted to single people who are over twenty-eight years of age. Adopters must be at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Children under fifteen years of age are preferred for adoptions and the child must be a ward of the state. A judge of the tribunal de grande instance can verify adoptions under law. An adopted child will become part of his/her's adopters blood line and will cease to be recognized from their past blood line. Similarly, ordinary adoption can be granted regardless of a child's age and if the child is over thirteen, the child must consent to the adoption. Just as in plenary adoption, the adopted child receives the kinship of the adopter.[75]

Inheritance[edit]

First of all, a person is barred from inheritance if they caused or assisted in the death of the person from who they are gaining inheritance or have in any way negatively affected the deceased. To inherit, there must be proof of heirship, which can be justified through birth certificate, marriage certificate, or various identifying documents which must be drafted into a proof of heirship by a notary. Legal heirs, who are eligible to receive inheritance are spouses or relatives of the deceased. Inheritance is given in rank order to spouses, children, mother and father, siblings, and other relatives of the deceased. Inheritance can be given to both maternal and paternal sides of the deceased. Also, the deceased could have also given property to people of their choice, with some restrictions. Once inheritance is given, the inheritance is taxed and the one receiving the inheritance is then legally responsible for all property given. Neither men nor women are said to be given priority in inheritance.[76]

Citizenship[edit]

Foreign-Born French Residents by Country of Birth[77]

Both male and female citizens of France are privy to the same rights under law and discrimination is criminalized by law. In terms of citizenship, there are several ways to be considered a French citizen. First, you must be born to at least one parent who is a French citizen or was also born in France. If this is so, then the child may denounce their citizenship at the age of adulthood. A child may also be considered a French citizen if they are born in France to parents of unknown nationality or to parents that are stateless. However, if a child is born in France to alien parents, the child will not obtain French nationality, unless he/she resides in France upon adulthood for at least five years. A person may also acquire French citizenship through marriage to a French citizen. However, French citizenship may be revoked upon divorce. In some cases, citizenship can be given by the government if a foreign person has served and was injured in the French military. Also, through naturalization, a person may be given citizenship when they live in a territory that has French as an official language, can prove that they have assimilated to the French community, are attending a French university as an alien or several other cases which are outlined in the French Civil Code.[78]

Human Rights[edit]

Constitutional Documents[edit]

Based on the Preamble of the French Constitution of 1946 and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, fundamental rights of citizens and non-citizens are spelled out.[79] According to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, people have a born equal and free with equal rights. Also, every person has a right to participate in government, have punishment that is fair, and be innocent until proven guilty. Through the Declaration, people are also guaranteed freedom of speech and conscience.[80] Similarly, the French Constitution of 1946 guarantees equal rights for both men and women, the right to asylum in France, the right to employment, the right to unionize, the right to strike, the right to safe working conditions, the right to family and the State must provide means for family to develop, the right of children, mothers and the elderly to the protection of their health, maternity and rest. Also, everyone has the right to "suitable means of existence from society," the right to free education for all, the right for all under colonial French rule to have access to public office and representation.[81]

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen[82]

Recent Reports on the State of Human Rights[edit]

According to the United States: State Department 2009 Human Rights Report, France ranked well in terms of political rights, arbitrary arrests, torture/cruel and unusual punishment, judicial procedures, freedom of speech and press, freedom of association, elections, protection of refugees, government transparency, and the conditions of work. However, France was reported to have significant human rights issues in the areas of violence against women, discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities, human trafficking, religious freedom, and police misconduct and prison conditions.

In terms, of violence against women, it has been reported that domestic violence rates against women have risen, even though there are laws against domestic violence. Prostitution is legal in France and sex tourism and trafficking of women and children for prostitution continues to be a problem. There has also been reports of state discrimination against the Roma in France. France has deported over 1,000 Roma people to Bulgaria and Romania since August 2010. The Roma are being profiled as criminals by the French government and discriminatory practices towards their migration to France have been extensive, also including government laws systematically evicting them from France. Also, in terms of religious freedom, France has enacted discriminatory laws which make it illegal for Muslims to wear full veils in public. There have also been attacks on both Jewish and Muslim people in France, specifically using negative slurs or vandalism towards their places of worship. French police have also been found using excessive force during arrests and have been criticized for lack of police monitoring. Lastly, french prisons were found to meet international standards, except in the area of overcrowding.[83]

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