The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - October 11, 2018
In this issue:

◢  UN Human Rights Committee – Law forbidding the concealment of the face in public spaces

◢  Malaysia – Abolition of the death penalty

◢  United Nations – International Day of the Girl Child (October 11, 2018)

UN Human Rights Committee – Law forbidding the concealment of the face in public spaces

The UN Human Rights Committee, which brings together experts responsible for overseeing the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will shortly provide observations on the law of October 11, 2010, which forbids the concealment of the face in public spaces.

France reaffirms that this law forbids the concealment of the face in public spaces insofar that it is considered incompatible with the principle of fraternity and the basic core of values of a democratic and open society. Every person is therefore free to wear in public spaces clothes that are intended to express a religious conviction, provided that they allow the face to be visible.

In its decision of July 1, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights itself ruled that this law does not infringe upon the freedom of conscience or the freedom of religion, and that it is not discriminatory.

France therefore underscores the full legitimacy of a law aimed at guaranteeing the conditions of social harmony necessary for the full enjoyment of civil and political rights, to which it is attached and which it promotes in its external policies.

Malaysia – Abolition of the death penalty

On the occasion of the 16th World Day against the Death Penalty, France welcomed the decisions taken over the last few months by Mongolia, Guinea and Burkina Faso to abolish the death penalty. It also welcomed the ratification by Gambia of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at abolishing the death penalty, as well as the abolition of capital punishment for ordinary crimes by Guatemala.

Today, it welcomes the announcement made yesterday by the Malaysian authorities of their plans to establish a moratorium on executions and to abolish the death penalty. Malaysia therefore joins the movement in support of the universal abolition of this unjust, inhumane and ineffective punishment.

France calls on all states that still impose the death penalty to establish a moratorium with a view toward its definitive abolition.

United Nations – International Day of the Girl Child (October 11, 2018)

Gender equality is a priority for the five-year term of President Macron and the government. As such, France is mobilized in the multilateral forums to put an end to discrimination against girls and women, to all forms of gender violence and to the early marriage of children. It is also committed to promoting the empowerment of all women and girls and to promoting equal access to education, nutrition, justice and healthcare.

It raised these issues on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York at a high-level meeting on girls' education that it co-hosted with the United Kingdom and Canada. Concrete commitments were made at this meeting to ensure that girls may fully take advantage of their right to an education a fundamental right that contributes to social development, economic growth, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On this International Day of the Girl Child, France reiterates its commitment to championing the fundamental rights of girls throughout the world.

Educating girls is a priority of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which held its replenishment conference in Dakar this past February under the joint presidency of Senegal and France, which pledged to increase its contribution tenfold. The GPE assists partner countries, especially in Africa, with financing and implementing sectoral plans for education, taking into account the challenges of gender equality, and with such concrete measures as the establishment of infrastructures suited to welcoming girls in schools, training teachers and educational staff in preventing gender stereotypes, and including content on the equality between boys and girls in educational programs.

Educating girls is also one of our priorities with respect to our bilateral cooperation in the Sahel. France has allocated €15 million to efforts in Niger, where more than half of all girls currently do not finish primary school, contributing to that country's new joint sectoral fund for education. The French Development Agency also launched a €10 million project for the period of 2017-2021 aimed at improving access to sexual and reproductive health and keeping girls in secondary school.

In 2019, France will publish its third national action plan on implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda to combat sexual violence in armed conflicts. This cause is one of France's priorities with regard to stepping up the protection of girls and women and doing a better job of including them in peace-building initiatives.

Even now, girls because of their gender have less access to education, to sufficient food, and to information on sexual and reproductive health, and all too many of them are not free to be in control of their own bodies and their own lives. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege underscored the extent to which girls are a particular target of sexual violence in armed conflicts.

France in the
United States
Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
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