National frameworks to address hate crime in France
This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in France. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on France's hate crime report page.
Hate crime recording and data collection
When reported, all offences are given a criminal qualification code and label by police officers; each code and its label refer to a particular article of the penal code. In France, hate crime is defined by crime definitions in the criminal code. Depending on the type of offence, up to five bias motivations can be recorded: religion, racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia.
Frontline police officers identify and record hate crimes the moment they are reported based on victim perception and/or objective facts and circumstances indicating a bias motivation. Police officers use a generic form to record hate crimes. However, they are trained to record hate crimes in line with the nature of the damage suffered. Some fields in the form – notably the criminal qualification codes and labels – are computed into a national database that compiles statistics on hate crime.
The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for two data collection processes. All security forces are connected to a central registration system. Data on hate crimes can be extracted from this database using the criminal qualification code under which they have been recorded. Since 2008, data on anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim offences have also been manually collected from local field offices by central intelligence services. These data are shared and discussed with Jewish and Muslim civil society organizations.
The Ministerial Statistical Department for Internal Security (SSMSI) within the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for producing reliable criminal statistics, and publishes studies related to hate crime statistics on its Interstats website.
The Ministry of Justice collects data from across the judiciary. The registration of data is subject to a strict and rigorous quality assurance process based on a common codification called the "justice reference system". The process groups together all criminal offences and allows the data to be cross-referenced according to the number of cases (registered, prosecuted, sentenced), the type of motivation (homophobic, gender, racism, etc.), the type of offence and the type of criminal sanction. The Ministry’s Department of Statistics and Studies (SDSE) centralizes and uses statistical data from the Cassiopée information system (criminal proceedings registered by prosecutors' offices) and final convictions entered in the criminal records. These data are published in the Annual Report on Racism, Antisemitism and Xenophobia prepared by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH).
A working group formed of the SSMSI, the SDSE and the Department of Criminal Affairs and Pardons (DACG) within the Ministry of Justice has been meeting since 2015. The group's objectives are to improve the methodology and produce comparable data on specific issues, particularly hate crimes.
Since 2007, the French National Institute of Statistics (INSEE), the SSMSI and the National Observatory of Crime and Criminal Justice (ONDRP) have conducted an annual large-scale crime victimization survey (CVS) among the general population. The survey provides information on insults, threats and physical assaults motivated by racism, anti-Semitism or xenophobia. Since 2018, the SSMSI has produced an annual statistical report which combines statistics recorded by the national police and gendarmerie with data gathered by the CVS. In 2022, a new questionnaire on the Experience and Feeling of Safety (VRS) has improved the collection of data on discriminatory phenomena.
Hate crime victim support
Specialized hate crime victim support is available in France. Victims of hate crime do not have a particular status that is different from other crime victims.
A country-wide, state-supported general victim support organization, France Victimes, gathers some 130 victim support providers, including civil society organizations (CSOs) that provide specialized support to victims of hate crimes committed with a particular bias. Some specialized support providers also co-operate directly with the state. Additionally, there is an agreement in place between the central offices working to combat cybercrimes and CSOs to address hate crime committed online. The co-operation between the government and civil society is institutionalized, and the state runs an accreditation system for support providers to verify the quality of the support they provide.
Both general and specialized support providers offer a range of services to all victims of crime, including free legal, psychological and social assistance. Some victim support offices are located in police stations, courts or offices providing general legal and administrative support to the public. A telephone helpline is also available to all crime victims.
Individual needs assessments are carried out by the police at the earliest opportunity. The process takes into account the specific needs of hate crime victims. Some protection measures are applied systematically, including: ensuring that minors are accompanied by a legal representative and chosen adult during hearings; limiting the number of victim interviews; ensuring that interviews are conducted by the same person and person of the same gender as the victim; and holding interviews in specially adapted premises. If necessary, an in-depth assessment can be made by a victim support provider, which may recommend specific protection measures to the police, the prosecution or the court. The assessment becomes part of the case file and is updated during criminal proceedings.
Standards on sensitive and respectful treatment of victims by police are in place. Victims can complain about their treatment by law enforcement to the dedicated committees chaired by state representatives.
The police refer all victims of crime to the relevant support services by providing their contact details to the victim. Dedicated police officers handle referrals in hate crime cases. Referrals to specialized support services can also be made by prosecutors when imposing special protection measures. There are specially appointed prosecutors dealing with hate crime cases. Representatives of support service providers, the law enforcement officer and criminal justice system employees receive training on how to interview victims of crime. Guidance on handling hate crime cases is available.
In criminal proceedings, hate crime victims are granted the same rights as all victims of crime. This includes access to the case file; the right to information and interpretation; access to a lawyer and to legal aid; and the ability to challenge decisions when they have the status of a civil party in the proceedings. Specialized lawyers are appointed by local bar associations to assist victims, provide them with legal representation and/or assist them in seeking compensation. CSOs dealing with victims of hate crime are also allowed to join the proceedings. In some instances, however, vulnerable victims have encountered difficulties in filing a complaint and being involved in judicial proceedings.
Compensations to victims of crime are handled by the Guarantee Fund for Victims, a public service available to victims of terrorism, common law offences and traffic accidents caused by uninsured or unknown drivers. Compensation to the victim may also be imposed on the offender as part of sentencing.
In April 2022, an online reporting platform was put in place to: (i) enable communication and information exchange between victims and witnesses of hate crime and the police or gendarmerie via an online chat function; (ii) inform the victims about their rights in criminal proceedings; (iii) direct the victims to relevant organizations providing assistance; (iv) facilitate access of victims and witnesses to the relevant police and gendarmerie units; and (v) report hate incidents to the relevant investigation services. The online service can be accessed anonymously.