Seine-Saint-Denis: a caravan to denounce discrimination

The red van does not go unnoticed. For its second stage, the county council parked its Caravan against discrimination in the Haute-Ile park in Neuilly-sur-Marne. Despite the low attendance, onlookers stop, take the flyers distributed by agents of the department.

Few recourse

We set up this caravan to inform and facilitate access to the law“, explains Juliette Griffind, director of the equality and diversity mission. “We do not want to take for granted the fact that since justice is difficult to grasp on the subject of discrimination, we are not going to seek it..”

In fact, out of 96,894 complaints addressed to the Defender of Rights, only 5,196 concern discrimination strictly speaking, the vast majority being linked to dysfunctions in the relationship of individuals with public services (60,617) according to the latest report from the institution.

This low number of appeals can be explained, according to Juliette Griffind, by the lack of information, but also by the feeling that justice has not been done. “There are more unsuccessful cases than known cases where claimants won; which gives the feeling that we will not be able to prove the discrimination of which we are the victim and that it will therefore be useless to initiate a procedure. But it is important to denounce discrimination because the more it will be exposed in the public debate, the more society will be able to act against it.“, she says.

Everything also depends on the legal qualification given to the fact. You can be seized on a lack of access to a public service, which is already an infringement of the right, but it can also be a matter of discrimination“, adds Yannis Zouahri, in charge of discrimination and access to the law at the Ile-de-France regional pole of the defender of rights.

Right to non-discrimination

The whole point of this caravan is to make the possibility of recourse better known to the public. “The promotion of the right to non-discrimination is an essential mission of the defender of rights. Or, the link between prejudice or stereotypes and discrimination, which may be a criminal offence, is not necessarily obvious“, notes Yannis Zouahri.

All forms of discrimination are concerned: linked to origin, skin color, disability, sexual orientation, but also age.

At certain stages, the presence of delegates from the Defender of Rights also makes it possible to file preliminary referrals.

The department has also relied on several associations (Kygel Théâtre, La nouvelle compagnie, Images buissonnières, Un sur quatre).

There must be means everywhere to allow those who are victims of discrimination to assert their rights, emphasizes Stéphane Troussel, the president of the departmental council of Seine-Saint-Denis. We are making a political fight out of it by creating a Discrimination and Equality Observatory, by deciding to obtain the AFNOR label in our own internal recruitment procedures, or by creating a diversity equality mission in the department. We are waging this fight in the interest of individuals but also of French society because if we do nothing, we allow democratic mistrust and civic withdrawal to grow.

In 2021, 63% of people questioned in Seine-Saint-Denis by the Harris-Interactive institute, on behalf of the department, believed that they had been victims of acts of discrimination in the past five years, including 84% of young people ( 18-24 years old). An increase in number compared to 2019 (56%). Among the main factors of discrimination cited, origin or skin color, religion, and residential area.