Amnesty attacks French police

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LONDON - Amnesty International has accused the French police of a pattern of ill-treatment, shootings and killings, particularly of non-Europeans and juveniles. In a report it detailed 11 cases of ill-treatment by French officers in the 18 months up to June 1994.

It concluded they used force recklessly and without due respect for the law. 'Time and time again, French law-enforcement officers ignore their own guidelines on the use of arms, and we are seeing the consequences,' it said in a statement. 'It is high time the French government took concrete steps to rectify shortcomings in police training and practice, and the practice of prosecutors and courts. Cases of police ill-treatment, some of them containing specific elements of racism, are all too frequent.'

Amnesty's David Braham said the organisation wrote to French officials in August 1993 highlighting complaints about shootings, killings and mistreatment. The group received no response and the persistence of the problem convinced Amnesty to write a full-length report.

An outcry followed police shootings of three unarmed men in separate incidents within four days in April 1993. But Amnesty said despite promises to rectify the situation, the pattern of human-rights abuses has continued. The report detailed the case of two unarmed 25-year-old men who it said died after being repeatedly shot by an off-duty police officer in Paris during an attempted robbery in June. Amnesty said it was concerned the officer opened fire and killed them even though his life was not in danger.