French court rules police must clearly display ID number

France’s highest administrative court ruled that police officers must clearly display their identification number badge.

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Police officers must clearly display their identification number badge, the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, ruled on Wednesday.

Police officers’ number badge, known as a RIO, should be made bigger so it is readable, especially when officers intervene in large gatherings, the decision said.

Advocates hope it will improve investigations into police violence.

Four human rights organisations and legal professionals unions had filed the case and say investigations into police violence often lead nowhere due to the inability to identify officers, encouraging a culture of impunity.

The French government has come under increasing scrutiny over heavy-handed police tactics during protests, such as earlier this year after the police shooting of Nahel, a teenager of North African descent, and during the Yellow Vest movement.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in France on 23 September to protest police violence in demonstrations organised by the left, with clashes breaking out on the margins of the rally in Paris.

In 2022, 38 people died as a result police action, including 22 who were shot dead: 13 of those deaths involved cases of someone refusing to comply with a police order.

Although wearing the RIO has been a legal obligation since 2013, it is often too small, not clearly displayed or completely hidden, the organisations say.

The authorities must comply with the court decision within 12 months.

On Tuesday, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe human rights body expressed concern about the high number of injuries during French protests and called for reform of the country’s police inspectorate bodies.

The resolution noted that judicial proceedings against officers for violence take a long time or are dismissed, often because of a lack of identification, and that there is a lack of transparency on the number of police officers sanctioned.

(with newswires) French court rules police must clearly display ID number

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