France: Baggage handlers discrimination case dismissed

The prosecutor of Bobigny announced Monday the dismissal of the discrimination case filed at the end of 2006 on behalf of Muslim baggage handlers at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Between May 2005 and November 2006 the Seine-Saint-Denis police district had withdrawn the badges of 72 employees suspected of being linked to Islamic terrorist movement, for reasons of 'airport security'.  The badges had enabled them to access a security-sensitive restricted area on the tarmac.

In several cases where there was no sufficient cause the withdrawals were canceled through administrative justice.  The issue even reached the Council of State, which had ordered the reassignment of a badge in February 2007.

In October 2006, the Bobigny prosecution started a preliminary investigation into discrimination, based on complaints by the CFDT trade union and the Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ADDH), a member of the collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), regarding seven baggage handlers.

The Bobigny prosecutor, François Molins, says that the alleged facts didn't constitute discrimination as per the penal code.  The withdrawal of the badges was in no way related to the Muslim religion of the baggage handlers, but rather to their behavior. 

In view of the investigation, the Paris police authority considers that the withdrawal was justified and that the police division had a legitimate purpose under the jurisprudence of the European Court for Human Rights.

The High Authority for the Struggle Against Discrimination and for Equality (HALDE) had to give up investigating the case, as it was investigated by the Bobigny prosecution.  The CFDT lawyer had then accused the Bobigny prosecution of 'locking up' the investigation for the purpose of "preparing a first class funeral" for the complaint.

Source: AFP (French)

See also: France: Baggage handlers barred from airport, France: Unofficial airport mosques closed

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