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Canada

Executive Summary

Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a federal parliamentary government. In a free and fair multiparty federal election held in October 2015, the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, won a majority of seats in the federal parliament, and Trudeau formed a government at the request of the Governor General.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues were reports of deadly violence against women, especially indigenous women, and forced labor, all of which authorities investigated and prosecuted.

There was no impunity for officials who committed violations, and the government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish them.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns cited in prisons and detention centers regarding physical conditions. Adults and juveniles were held separately, although minors were held with their parents in immigration detention centers as an alternative to splitting families.

Civil liberties and prisoners’ rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) filed suits against the federal government in courts in British Columbia and Ontario over the use of “administrative segregation” or solitary confinement in federal correctional facilities. The suits alleged prison authorities overly relied on solitary confinement to manage crowded institutions and high-needs inmates; subjected individuals to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment; violated the right to be free from arbitrary detention; and failed to meet its duty to provide care. NGOs sought legislated caps on the time authorities may keep individuals in segregation. In March the federal correctional investigator reported the average daily count of inmates in administrative segregation decreased to fewer than 400 in 2015-16 (down from average counts of more than 800 in the previous two years). The average time inmates spent in solitary confinement also fell in part due to assignment of high-needs inmates to treatment programs and specialized units for mental care, drug addiction, or other factors as an alternative to segregation.

In July an Ottawa man filed suit against the Ontario government for a mental health breakdown which he alleged occurred after spending 18 months in solitary confinement while on remand awaiting trial.

Administration: Independent authorities investigated credible allegations of inhumane behavior, and documented the results of such investigations in a publicly accessible manner.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted visits by independent non-governmental human rights observers.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his/her arrest or detention in court; the government generally observed these requirements.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

National, provincial, and municipal police forces maintain internal security. The armed forces are responsible for external security but in exceptional cases may exercise some domestic security responsibility at the formal request of civilian provincial authorities. The federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports to the Department of Public Safety and the armed forces report to the Department of National Defense. Provincial and municipal police report to their respective provincial authorities. The Canada Border Services Agency reports to the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and is responsible for enforcing immigration law. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the RCMP and provincial and municipal police forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

Authorities generally relied upon warrants in the apprehension of persons. A judge can issue a warrant after being satisfied a criminal offense might have been committed. A person arrested for a criminal offense has the right to a prompt, independent judicial determination of the legality of the detention. Authorities respected this right. Authorities provided detainees with timely information on the reason for the arrest, and ensured prompt access to a lawyer of the detainee’s choice, or, if the detainee was indigent, a lawyer provided by the state without restriction. Bail generally was available. Suspects were not detained incommunicado or held under house arrest.

Judges may issue preemptive peace bonds (orders to keep the peace) and apprehend individuals who authorities reasonably believe may carry out terrorist activities. Judges may also issue recognizances of bail to detain persons and impose bail conditions if authorities deem the restrictions likely to prevent terrorist activity. Authorities may hold persons under preventive detention under recognizance for up to seven days, subject to periodic judicial review. Restrictions may include limits on travel and surrender of passports. Use of peace bonds and recognizance for counterterrorism purposes is subject to annual reporting requirements to the federal parliament.

Pretrial Detention: Authorities released detainees immediately after they were charged, unless a judge deemed continued detention necessary to ensure the detainee’s attendance in court, for the protection or safety of the public, or due to the gravity of the offense. Persons subject to continued detention have the right to judicial review of their status at regular intervals. In 2016 the Supreme Court imposed ceilings of 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior courts to bring cases to trial. If authorities exceeded these limits, the Supreme Court ruling stated it would consider accused persons “to have suffered prejudice” and be entitled to a stay of charges or other remedy, unless authorities could demonstrate exceptional circumstances had caused the delay.

The government may detain or deport noncitizens on national security grounds through use of an immigration security certificate. The government issues certificates based on confidential evidence presented to two cabinet ministers by intelligence or police agencies, which is then reviewed by a federal court judge who determines “reasonableness” and either upholds or revokes the certificate. A judge may order an individual to be detained during the security certificate determination process if the government believes the individual presents a danger to national security or is unlikely to appear at the proceeding for removal. The judge may impose conditions on release into the community, including monitoring. Individuals subject to a security certificate may see a summary of confidential evidence against them. Authorities must provide full disclosure to court-appointed, security-cleared lawyers (special advocates), who can review and challenge the evidence on behalf of these individuals but not share or discuss the material with them. The law establishes strict rules on the disclosure and use of secret evidence, prohibits the use of evidence if there are reasonable grounds to believe authorities obtained the evidence because of torture, and provides mechanisms for review and appeal.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and the independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials are held before a judge alone or, for more serious cases, before a judge and jury. Defendants have the right to a fair and timely trial, to be present at their trial, and to consult with an attorney of their choice in a timely manner. The government provides an attorney at public expense if needed when defendants face serious criminal charges, and defendants may confront or question witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys generally have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Defendants also enjoy a presumption of innocence, a right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them (with free interpretation as necessary), a right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and a right of appeal.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters and access to a court to bring a suit seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Remedies can be monetary, declaratory, or injunctive. Federal or provincial human rights commissions may also hear alleged human rights violations. Individuals may also bring human rights complaints to the UN or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.

Freedom of Expression: The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may limit free speech in the name of goals such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting gender equality. The court has also ruled that the benefits of limiting hate speech and promoting equality are sufficient to outweigh the freedom of speech clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the country’s constitutional bill of rights.

The criminal code prohibits public incitement and willful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group in any medium. Inciting hatred (in certain cases) or genocide is a criminal offense, but the Supreme Court sets a high threshold for such cases, specifying that these acts must be proven willful and public. Provincial-level film censorship, broadcast licensing procedures, broadcasters’ voluntary codes curbing graphic violence, and laws against hate literature and pornography impose some restrictions on the media.

In January a gunman killed six persons and injured 17 more in a shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City. The gunman was arrested and charged, although the government did not charge him with terrorism. While public and official reaction to the event was overwhelmingly condemnatory, in July an unidentified individual left a package at the same mosque with a note expressing hate and a defaced Quran.

In July police charged a Mississauga, Ontario, man with one count of willful promotion of hatred for posting abusive videos and materials against Muslims and other groups on his website freedomreport.ca and other social media platforms. The charge related to a series of online postings over a five-month period, rather than a single incident.

In April, Justice Jacques Chamberland opened public hearings in Quebec in an inquiry ordered by the provincial government into reports Quebec law enforcement agencies surveilled eight journalists between 2008 and 2016 as part of internal police investigations into sources of leaked information. Although the police had a warrant from a Quebec court for each case, testimony suggested police might have based warrant applications on unsubstantiated allegations. The electronic monitoring allowed police authorities to track the journalists’ movements and telephone logs.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

Approximately 99 percent of households could access broadband services. According to 2016 International Telecommunication Union data, 90 percent of the population used the internet in 2016.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, or other persons of concern.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.

Durable Solutions: The government accepted refugees for resettlement from third countries and facilitated local integration (including naturalization), particularly of refugees in protracted situations. The government assisted the safe, voluntary return of refugees to their homes.

Temporary Protection: The government also provided temporary protection (in the form of temporary residence permits) to persons who may not qualify as refugees.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In 2015 following a free and fair election, the Liberal Party won a majority of seats in the federal parliament and formed a national government.

Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit the participation of women and/or members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate. In March the government of New Brunswick implemented a plan–the first in the country’s history–to provide financial incentives to political parties to field more female candidates in provincial elections.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year.

Corruption: In July a Quebec court sentenced Claude Deguise, the former director of the engineering department of the city of Laval, Quebec, to 30 months in prison for masterminding a collusion scheme with construction firms bidding on municipal contracts. Thirteen individuals from participating companies also pled guilty.

Financial Disclosure: By law public officeholders, including elected members of the executive branch and their staffs and designated senior nonelected officials, must disclose information about their personal financial assets. These declarations, as well as an annual report, are available to the public through regular reports from a commissioner for conflict of interest and ethics. The commissioner may impose an administrative monetary penalty for noncompliance, but the law does not provide for criminal sanctions. Members of the legislative branch are not required to disclose financial holdings but must recuse themselves from voting or conducting hearings on matters in which they have a pecuniary interest. Provincial governments provide independent audits of government business and ombudsman services.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A wide variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: Federal and provincial human rights commissions enjoyed government cooperation, operated without government or party interference, and had adequate resources. Observers considered the commissions effective. Parliamentary human rights committees operated in the House of Commons and the Senate. The committees acted independently of government, conducted public hearings, and issued reports and recommendations to which the government provided written, public, and timely responses. Most federal departments and some federal agencies employed ombudsmen. Nine provinces and one territory also employed ombudsmen.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, as sexual assault, and the government enforced the law effectively. Penalties for sexual assault carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison, up to 14 years for sexual assault with a restricted or prohibited firearm, and between four years and life for aggravated sexual assault with a firearm or committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization. Most victims of sexual assault were women.

The law prohibits domestic violence against men or women, although most victims were women. Although the criminal code does not define specific domestic violence offenses, an abuser can be charged with an applicable offense, such as assault, aggravated assault, intimidation, mischief, or sexual assault. Persons convicted of assault receive up to five years in prison. Assaults involving weapons, threats, or injuries carry terms of up to 10 years. Aggravated assault or endangerment of life carry prison sentences of up to 14 years. The government enforced the law effectively.

According to the government’s statistical agency, indigenous women were three times more likely than nonindigenous women to experience violent abuse and, according to the RCMP, were four times more likely to be victims of homicide. Civil society groups also claimed the government failed to allocate adequate resources to address these cases.

The federal government launched an independent national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in 2016 with a budget of C$53.8 million ($42.1 million) and a mandate to report by the end of 2018. By August the inquiry had held only one public hearing, and one of the five commissioners and a number of senior staff had resigned. In response to criticism, the commissioners widened the scope of the mandate to consider the conduct of policing services and policies across the country.

Police received training in treating victims of domestic violence, and agencies provided hotlines to report abuse. The RCMP, Ontario and Quebec provincial police services, and various municipal police forces announced reviews of their handling of sexual assault allegations. This review followed an investigative media report analyzing 870 police jurisdictions between 2010 and 2014 that found police dismissed complaints of sexual assault as “unfounded” without laying charges at an average national rate of 19 percent, with reported rates as high as 60 percent in some jurisdictions. The government’s Family Violence Initiative involved 15 federal departments, agencies, and crown corporations, including Status of Women Canada, Health Canada, and Justice Canada. These entities worked with civil society organizations to eliminate violence against women and advance women’s human rights. In June the government launched a national strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence, budgeting C$101 million ($79 million) over five years to create a center of excellence within Status of Women Canada for research, data collection, and programming. Provincial and municipal governments also sought to address violence against women, often in partnership with civil society.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C of women and girls and prosecutes the offense as aggravated assault with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. Persons committing or aiding another person to commit the offense may be charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm (maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment) or criminal negligence causing death (maximum penalty of life imprisonment). Persons convicted of removing or assisting the removal of a child who is ordinarily a resident in the country to have FGM/C performed on the child may face a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. Refugee status may be granted on the grounds of threatened FGM/C that may be considered gender-related persecution. Provincial child protection authorities may intervene to remove children from their homes if they suspect a risk of FGM/C.

Internal government reports obtained by media organizations asserted FGM/C practitioners travelled to a third country to provide the illegal procedure. The government instructed border services officers to monitor baggage for FGM/C equipment and to be aware of young female nationals returning from travel in regions where they may be subjected to the practice.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The criminal code does not specifically refer to “honor” killings, but it prosecutes such cases as murder. Murder convictions in the first or second degree carry minimum penalties of life imprisonment with eligibility for parole. The law limits the defense of “provocation” to prevent its application to cases of “honor” killing and cases of spousal homicide. The government enforced the law effectively. The government’s citizenship guide for new immigrants explicitly states “honor” killings and gender-based violence carry severe legal penalties. The government trains law enforcement officials on issues of “honor”-based violence and maintains an interdepartmental working group focusing on forced marriage and “honor”-based violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law does not contain a specific offense of “sexual harassment” but criminalizes harassment (defined as stalking), punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment, and sexual assault, with penalties ranging from 10 years for non-aggravated sexual assault to life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault. The government generally enforced these prohibitions. Federal and provincial labor standards laws provide some protection against harassment, and federal, provincial, and territorial human rights commissions have responsibility for investigating and resolving harassment complaints. Employers, companies, unions, educational facilities, professional bodies, and other institutions had internal policies against sexual harassment, and federal and provincial governments provided public education and advice.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights in the judicial system as men, and the government enforced the rights effectively. Seven provinces and two territories require private-sector companies to report annually on their efforts to increase the number of women appointed to executive corporate boards. The government’s statistical agency reported that hourly wages for women were, on average, lower than for men but that the wage gap had narrowed over the past two decades.

Indigenous women living on reservations (where land is held communally) have matrimonial property rights. First Nations may choose to follow federal law or enact their own rules related to matrimonial real property rights and interests that respect their customs.

Indigenous women and men living on reserves are subject to the Indian Act, which defines status for the purposes of determining entitlement to a range of legislated rights and eligibility for federal programs and services. Indigenous women do not enjoy equal rights with indigenous men to transmit officially recognized status to their descendants.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Births are registered immediately and are not denied or not provided on a discriminatory basis. There were no reports of the government denying public services, such as education or health care, to those who failed to register.

Child Abuse: The law criminalizes violence and abuse against children, including assault, sexual exploitation, child pornography, abandonment, emotional maltreatment, and neglect. Provincial and territorial child welfare services investigate cases of suspected child abuse and may provide counseling and other support services to families, or place children in child welfare care, when warranted. For additional information, see UNICEF child protection at www.unicef.org/protection/ .

Early and Forced Marriage: The law establishes 16 years as the legal minimum age of marriage. Early marriages were not known to be a major problem. The law criminalizes the removal of a child from the country for the purpose of early and forced marriage and provides for court-ordered peace bonds, which may include surrendering of a passport, to disrupt an attempt to remove a child for that purpose.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the sale of children, and offering or procuring a child for child prostitution and practices related to child pornography. Authorities enforced the law effectively. The minimum age of consensual sex is 16 years. Persons convicted of living from the proceeds of the prostitution of a child younger than 18 face between two and 14 years’ imprisonment. Persons who aid, counsel, compel, use, or threaten to use violence, intimidation, or coercion in relation to a child younger than 18 engaging in prostitution face between five and 14 years’ imprisonment. Persons who solicit or obtain the sexual services of a child younger than 18 face between six months’ and five years’ imprisonment. Children, principally teenage females, were exploited in sex trafficking.

The law prohibits accessing, producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography. Maximum penalties range from 18 months’ imprisonment for summary offenses to 10 years’ imprisonment for indictable offenses.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

Approximately 1 percent of the population is Jewish.

The B’nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights received 1,728 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, a 26 percent increase from 2015. The greatest number of reports (490) came from the province of Ontario. Some university students reported anti-Semitic attacks on campus. For example, in January in Sackville, New Brunswick, an unidentified person carved a large swastika in the school’s field. In January unknown individuals left a rock with anti-Semitic messages written on it on the doorstep of a Jewish person’s home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. City authorities and university officials denounced both incidents publicly.

In March Ryerson University officials fired Imam Ayman Elkasrawy, a teaching assistant, for making anti-Semitic comments that were captured on video during prayers at a Toronto mosque. Elkasrawy apologized for the comments, but the Toronto police and the Muslim Association of Canada were investigating the incident. The Muslim Association of Canada apologized for the incident and suspended Elkasrawy for preaching an unauthorized sermon.

In July unknown individuals left anti-Semitic graffiti on a car in Montreal. Montreal police reportedly refused to open an investigation into the incident and advised the car owner to remove the graffiti herself. Following public pressure, the Montreal police apologized and opened an investigation into the incident.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, and the government effectively enforced these prohibitions. The federal minister of families, children, and social development, supported by the minister of persons with disabilities, provides federal leadership on protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, and provincial governments also have ministerial-level representation. Federal and provincial governments effectively implemented laws and programs mandating access to buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities, but regulation varies by jurisdiction. No comprehensive federal legislation protects the rights of persons with disabilities, creating a situation where accessibility provisions are unevenly implemented and enforced throughout the country.

Children with disabilities attended primary, secondary, and higher education, and the majority attended classes with nondisabled peers or in a combination of nondisabled and special education classes with parental consent.

Disability rights NGOs reported that persons with disabilities experienced higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, lower rates of job retention, and higher rates of poverty and economic marginalization than the broader population.

Federal and provincial human rights commissions protected and promoted respect for the rights of persons with disabilities. The government provided services and monetary benefits. Facilities existed to provide support for persons with mental health disabilities, but mental disability advocates asserted that the prison system was not sufficiently equipped or staffed to provide the care necessary for those in the criminal justice system, resulting in cases of segregation and self-harm.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law prohibits discrimination because of race. Federal, provincial, and territorial human rights commissions investigated complaints and raised public awareness. The federal Canadian Race Relations Foundation coordinates and facilitates public education and research and develops recommendations to eliminate racism and promote harmonious race relations.

According to the government’s statistical agency, 1,362 incidents of hate crimes were reported to police in 2015, of which 641 were motivated by race or ethnic bias, and 38 percent involved violence, including assault and uttered threats. Blacks constituted the most commonly targeted racial group, accounting for 224 incidents, and Jews 178. According to the report, there were 49 police-reported hate crimes against East or Southeast Asians, 48 against South Asians, and 92 against Arab or West Asians.

Indigenous People

Indigenous peoples constituted approximately 4 percent of the national population and much higher percentages in the country’s three territories: Yukon, 23 percent; Northwest Territories, 52 percent; and Nunavut, 86 percent. Disputes over land claims, self-government, treaty rights, taxation, duty-free imports, fishing and hunting rights, and alleged police harassment were sources of tension. Indigenous peoples remained underrepresented in the workforce, leadership positions, and politics; overrepresented on welfare rolls and in prison populations; and more susceptible than other groups to suicide, poverty, chronic health conditions, and sexual violence. According to the government’s statistical agency, the overall violent victimization rate (which includes sexual assault, assault, and robbery) for indigenous persons in 2014 was 163 incidents per 1,000 persons, more than double the rate of 74 incidents per 1,000 among nonindigenous persons.

The law recognizes individuals registered under the Indian Act based on indigenous lineage and members of a recognized First Nation as Status Indians and thereby eligible for a range of federal services and programs. Status and services are withheld from unregistered or non-Status indigenous persons who do not meet eligibility criteria for official recognition or who may have lost status through marriage to a nonindigenous person or other disenfranchisement. According to the government’s statistical agency, in 2011 indigenous children accounted for almost 50 percent of the approximately 30,000 children younger than 14 in foster care. A Supreme Court ruling in 2016 confirmed that some federal government responsibilities do exist for non-Status First nations and Metis peoples (descendants of historical unions between indigenous and European persons).

The law recognizes and specifically protects indigenous rights, including rights established by historical land claims settlements. Treaties with indigenous groups form the basis for the government’s policies in the eastern part of the country, but there were legal challenges to the government’s interpretation and implementation of treaty rights. Indigenous groups in the western part of the country that had never signed treaties continued to claim land and resources, and many continued to seek legal resolution of outstanding issues. As a result, the evolution of the government’s policy toward indigenous rights, particularly land claims, depended on negotiation or legal challenges.

The law imposes statutory, contractual, and common-law obligations to consult with indigenous peoples on the development and exploitation of natural resources on land covered by treaty or subject to land claims by First Nations. According to a Supreme Court ruling, the federal government has the constitutional duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate indigenous peoples when the government contemplates actions that may adversely affect potential or established indigenous and treaty rights. This law was yet to be uniformly implemented.

The Supreme Court has affirmed that indigenous title extends to territory used by indigenous peoples for hunting, fishing, and other activities prior to contact with Europeans, as well as to settlement sites. Provincial and federal governments may develop natural resources on land subject to indigenous title but are obliged to obtain consent of the indigenous titleholders in addition to existing constitutional duties to consult, and where necessary, accommodate indigenous peoples in matters that affect their rights. If governments cannot obtain consent, they may proceed with resource development only based on a “compelling and substantial objective” in the public interest, in which the public interest is proportionate to any adverse effect on indigenous interests. The court has established that indigenous titles are collective in nature.

In January 2016 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminated against indigenous children when it failed to fund welfare services for children living on reserves at the same level of services for off-reserve populations. While the government dedicated new funds to address inequities in welfare services for children living on reserve, the tribunal issued three noncompliance orders, most recently in May. The government filed an application for judicial review of two parts of the tribunal’s ruling in June.

In February the Ontario Metis signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government to initiate discussions toward an agreement to set up negotiations on Metis self-government, lands, rights, and other outstanding claims against the government. In April the government and Metis leaders signed an additional agreement to start negotiations on shared priorities in a permanent forum chaired by the prime minister. In 2016 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously the Metis and non-Status Indians are Indians under the Constitution Act and fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Nearly 600,000 Canadians identify as Metis.

In February an Ontario judge ruled the federal government was liable for the “Sixties Scoop,” during which child welfare services removed an estimated 20,000 indigenous children, 16,000 of them in Ontario, from their parents’ custody and placed them with nonindigenous foster families in Canada and the United States. In October, Ontario plaintiffs and the federal government announced they had reached a settlement of C$800 million ($63 million); individual plaintiffs will receive between C$25,000 ($20,000) and C$50,000 ($39,000) in compensation. The government also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees (estimated at C$75 million [$59 million]), and provide C$50 million ($39 million) for a new Indigenous Healing Foundation, which had been a key demand of the plaintiffs.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the criminal code provides penalties for crimes motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on personal characteristics, including sexual orientation. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, New Brunswick, and British Columbia prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. Nunavut and Yukon territories prohibit such discrimination implicitly based on “sex” or “gender.”

In June parliament amended the federal human rights act to add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Provinces and territories have different requirements for persons to change their legal gender marker in documents such as birth certificates and identifications. Some provinces require one or more physicians to certify the applicant has completed gender reassignment surgery before an applicant may change the legal gender marker. The provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta allow residents to change their gender marker with a personal and/or physician’s declaration indicating the individual’s gender identity.

There were occasions of violence and abuse against individuals based on sexual orientation, but in general, the government effectively implemented the law criminalizing such behavior. NGOs reported that stigma or intimidation was a known or likely factor in the underreporting of incidents of abuse. Some police forces employed liaison officers for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex communities.

In January the federal government settled a case with a transgender individual who sought to remove a gender identification from the individual’s social insurance card. The government pledged to review its policy on collecting personally identifiable gender information and further pledged to do so only if there are “legitimate purposes.”

In August the government permitted transgender citizens to add an observation to their passports to indicate that they do not identify as either male or female. The change is an interim measure pending the availability of passports allowing individuals to designate their gender as “x.”

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

There were reports of societal violence and discrimination against members of other minority, racial, and religious groups, but the government generally implemented the law criminalizing such behavior effectively.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

Federal and some provincial laws, including related regulations and statutory instruments, provide for the right of workers in both the public and the private sectors to form and join independent unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively. Workers in the public sector who provide essential services, including police and armed forces, do not have the right to strike but have mechanisms to provide for due process and to protect workers’ rights. Workers in essential services had recourse to binding arbitration if labor negotiations failed. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and provides for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity. There were no reports of antiunion discrimination or other forms of employer interference in union functions.

Federal labor law applies in federally regulated sectors, which include industries of extra provincial or international character, transportation and transportation infrastructure that crosses provincial and international borders, marine shipping, port and ferry services, air transportation and airports, pipelines, telecommunications, banks, grain elevators, uranium mining and processing, works designated by the federal parliament affecting two or more provinces, protection of fisheries as a natural resource, many First Nation activities, and most crown corporations. These industries employed approximately 10 percent of workers.

The law grants the government exclusive authority to designate which federal employees provide an essential service and do not have the right to strike. The law also makes it illegal for an entire bargaining unit to strike if the government deems 80 percent or more of the employees of the unit essential.

Provincial and territorial governments regulate and are responsible for enforcing their own labor laws in all occupations and workplaces that are not federally regulated, leaving categories of workers excluded from statutory protection of freedom of association in several provinces. Some provinces restrict the right to strike. For example, agricultural workers in Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick do not have the right to organize or bargain collectively under provincial law.

The government effectively enforced applicable laws and regulations in a timely fashion, including with effective remedies and penalties such as corrective workplace practices and criminal prosecution for noncompliance and willful violations, and generally respected freedom of association and the right of collective bargaining. Penalties were sufficient to deter violations. Administrative and judicial procedures were not subject to lengthy delays and appeals.

In June parliament repealed legislation public service unions had claimed contravened International Labor Organization conventions by limiting the number of persons who could strike.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and the government effectively enforced the law. The law prescribes penalties for violations of up to 14 years’ imprisonment, or life imprisonment in the case of certain aggravating factors, such as kidnapping or sexual assault. Such penalties were sufficiently stringent. During the year the government investigated and prosecuted cases of forced labor and domestic servitude.

The federal government held employers of foreign workers accountable by verifying employers’ ability to pay wages and provide accommodation and, through periodic inspections and mandatory compliance reviews, ensuring that employers provided substantially the same wages, living conditions, and occupation specified in the employers’ original job offer. The government can deny noncompliant employers permits to recruit foreign workers for two years and impose fines of up to C$100,000 ($78,500) per violation for employer abuses of the program. Some provincial governments imposed licensing and registration requirements on recruiters or employers of foreign workers and prohibited the charging of recruitment fees to workers.

There were reports that employers subjected noncitizen or foreign-born men and women to forced labor in the agricultural sector, food processing, cleaning services, hospitality, construction industries, and in domestic service. NGOs reported that bonded labor, particularly in the construction industry, and domestic servitude constituted the majority of cases of forced labor and that some victims had participated in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

There is no federal minimum age for employment. In federally regulated sectors, children younger than 17 may work only when they are not required to attend school under provincial legislation, provided the work does not fall under excluded categories (such as work underground in a mine, on a vessel, or in the vicinity of explosives), and the work does not endanger health and safety. Children may not work in any federally regulated sector between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The provinces and territories have primary responsibility for regulation of child labor, and minimum age restrictions vary by province. Enforcement occurs through a range of laws covering employment standards, occupational health and safety, education laws, and in regulations for vocational training, child welfare, and licensing of establishments for the sale of alcohol. Most provinces restrict the number of hours of work to two or three hours on a school day and eight hours on a non-school day, and prohibit children ages 12 to 16 from working without parental consent, after 11 p.m., or in any hazardous employment.

Authorities effectively enforced child labor laws and policies, and federal and provincial labor ministries carried out child labor inspections either proactively or in response to formal complaints. There were reports that limited resources hampered inspection and enforcement efforts. Penalties were pecuniary and varied according to the gravity of the offense.

There were reports that child labor occurred, particularly in the agricultural sector. There were also reports that children, principally teenage females, were subjected to sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6, Children).

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law and regulations prohibit discrimination with respect to employment or occupation on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin or citizenship, disability, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, age, language, HIV-positive status, or other communicable diseases. Some provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the Northwest Territories, prohibit employment discrimination on the grounds of social origin, “social condition,” or political opinion. Federal law requires on a complaint basis equal pay for equal work for four designated groups in federally regulated industries enforced through the Canadian Human Rights Commission: women, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, and visible minorities. Ontario and Quebec have pay equity laws that cover both the public and private sectors, and other provinces require pay equity only in the public sector.

Authorities encouraged individuals to resolve employment-related discrimination complaints through internal workplace dispute resolution processes as a first recourse, but federal and provincial human rights commissions investigated and mediated complaints and enforced the law and regulations. The government enforced the law effectively, but some critics complained that the process was complex and failed to issue rulings in a timely manner. Foreign migrant workers have the same labor rights as citizens and permanent residents, although NGOs alleged that discrimination occurred against migrant workers.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

As of August provincial and territorial minimum wage rates ranged from C$10.72 to C$13.00 ($8.40 to $10.17) per hour. There is no official poverty income level. Some provinces exempt agricultural, hospitality, and other specific categories of workers from minimum wage rates. For example, Ontario has for persons younger than 18 who work less than 28 hours per week when school is in session a minimum wage lower than the respective minimum for adult workers.

Standard work hours vary by province, but in each the limit is 40 or 48 hours per week, with at least 24 hours of rest. The law requires payment of a premium for work above the standard workweek. Entitlement to paid annual leave varies by province, but the law requires a minimum of 10 days’ paid annual leave per year (or payment of 4 percent of wages in lieu) after one year of continuous employment. Some provinces mandate an additional week of paid leave to employees who complete a specified length of service. There is no specific prohibition on excessive compulsory overtime, which is regulated by means of the required rest periods in the labor code that differ by industry. Some categories of workers have specific employment rights that differ from the standard, including commercial fishermen, oil field workers, loggers, home caregivers, professionals, managers, and some sales staff.

Federal law provides safety and health standards for employees under federal jurisdiction. Provincial and territorial legislation provides for all other employees, including foreign and migrant workers. Standards were current and appropriate for the industries they covered. Federal, provincial, and territorial laws protect the right of workers with “reasonable cause” to refuse dangerous work and to remove themselves from hazardous work conditions, and authorities effectively enforced this right. The government also promoted safe working practices and provided training, education, and resources through the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, a federal agency composed of representatives of government, employers, and labor.

Minimum wage, hours of work, and occupational health and safety standards were effectively enforced. Federal and provincial labor departments monitored and effectively enforced labor standards by conducting inspections through scheduled and unscheduled visits, in direct response to reported complaints, and at random. Penalties were pecuniary and varied according to the gravity of the offense. Under the federal labor code, maximum penalties for criminal offenses, including criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, or willful breach of labor standards in which the person in breach knew that serious injury or death was likely to occur, could include imprisonment. Enforcement measures include a graduated response, with a preference for resolution via voluntary compliance, negotiation, and education; prosecution and fines serve as a last resort. Some trade unions continued to note that limited resources hampered the government’s inspection and enforcement efforts.

NGOs reported migrants, new immigrants, young workers, and the unskilled were vulnerable to violations of the law on minimum wage, overtime pay, unpaid wages, and excessive hours of work. NGOs also alleged that restrictions on the types of labor complaints accepted for investigation and delays in processing cases discouraged the filing of complaints.

According to the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada, during 2015, the most recent year for which data were available, there were 852 workplace fatalities. During the year there were some reports of workplace accidents.

France

Executive Summary

France is a multiparty constitutional democracy. Voters directly elect the president of the republic to a five-year term. They elected Emmanuel Macron to that position in May. An electoral college elects members of the bicameral parliament’s upper house (Senate), and voters directly elect members of the lower house (National Assembly). Observers considered the April 23/May 7 presidential and the June 11/18 parliamentary (Senate and National Assembly) elections to have been free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Since the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, the country was under a state of emergency that gave expanded powers to police and other government authorities. The emergency law authorized the government to dissolve associations deemed to be working towards the serious disruption of public order. It also authorized prefects in all regions to close temporarily concert halls, restaurants, or any public place and to prohibit public demonstrations or gatherings posing a threat to public safety, as they deemed appropriate. While the state of emergency generally enjoyed legislative and public support, some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and parliamentarians expressed concern it negatively affected the balance between security and individual rights. On October 31, the state of emergency was lifted, and the government enacted legislation to codify certain powers granted under it. To prevent acts of terrorism, the law permits authorities to restrict and monitor the movement of individuals, conduct administrative searches and seizures, close religious institutions for disseminating violent extremist ideas, implement enhanced security measures at public events, and expand identity checks near the country’s borders. The core provisions will expire at the end of 2020 unless actively renewed by parliament. Some members of the National Assembly and human rights organizations criticized the bill for incorporating the emergency measures in common law, a step they believed eroded civil liberties and diminished judicial oversight.

The most significant human rights issues included reports of societal acts of violence against migrants, minorities, Jews, Muslims, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons; authorities generally investigated, and where appropriate prosecuted, such cases.

The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish members of the security forces and other officials who committed human rights abuses. Impunity was not widespread.

During the year the country experienced six terrorist attacks, at least five terror-related individual killings targeting security forces, and several attempted terrorist attacks. As of year’s end, authorities continued to investigate elements of these cases.

Note: The country includes 11 overseas administrative divisions covered in this report. Four overseas territories in French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and La Reunion have the same political status as the 22 metropolitan regions and 101 departments on the mainland. Five divisions are overseas “collectivities”: French Polynesia, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna. New Caledonia is a special overseas collectivity with a unique, semiautonomous status between that of an independent country and an overseas department. Citizens of these territories periodically elect deputies and senators to represent them in parliament, like the other overseas regions and departments.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

The country experienced several terrorist attacks during the year including some that resulted in fatalities. On April 20, a 39-year-old male French citizen, using an automatic assault rifle, killed one police officer and injured two others on Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris; security forces shot and killed the assailant. On June 19, a 31-year-old man rammed his car into security force vehicles on Avenue des Champs-Elysees; the assailant died of injuries sustained during the attack. On October 1, a Tunisian national man armed with a knife killed two women at the main train station in Marseille; the security forces shot and killed the assailant.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

While the constitution and law prohibit such practices, there were occasional accusations that security and military personnel committed abuses.

On February 23, the Defender of Rights, a constitutionally created, independent civil rights watchdog institution, reported registering 1,225 complaints against the security forces’ intervention methods in 2016.

There were reports police beat, kicked, and used pepper spray on migrants and asylum seekers in Calais (see section 2.d.).

In 2015 credible allegations surfaced that French peacekeeping soldiers sexually abused children in 2013 and 2014 at a camp for internally displaced persons in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. The Ministry of Defense and the Paris prosecutor’s office opened separate investigations into the allegations. In February 2016 Paris prosecutors widened the probe after two children submitted accusations of rape against French soldiers. In April 2016 a judicial source stated prosecutors had opened a third investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by French peacekeeping forces. On March 22, sources close to the investigation reported that prosecutors asked for the charges to be dismissed due to a lack of reliable evidence. At year’s end the investigation was still continuing.

On February 2, four police officers reportedly stopped a 22-year-old black man, Theo Luhaka, for an identity check in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, and one of the officers reportedly penetrated Luhaka’s anus with a baton. Media reports stated Luhaka spent two weeks in a hospital where medical examinations concluded he had suffered a four-inch gash in his rectum as well as head trauma. The incident sparked several days of demonstrations in Aulnay-sous-Bois and surrounding neighborhoods. On February 17, the UN high commissioner for human rights expressed concern regarding impunity in the police force and asked the government to conduct a “rapid and impartial investigation.” Authorities charged the four officers for aggravated assault and one police officer for rape. At year’s end the investigation was continuing.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

While prisons and detention centers met most international standards, credible NGOs and government officials reported overcrowding and unhygienic conditions in prisons.

In April the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a report on its most recent visit to the country in 2015. The report expressed concerns regarding overcrowding in detention centers and prisons, derogatory comments against detainees, particularly against minors, a lack of windows and ventilation systems in detention centers, and prolonged isolation of violent inmates in psychiatric centers.

Physical Conditions: The maximum acceptable capacity for the country’s 191 prisons was 59,094 inmates. As of August the Prison Service reported the country’s prisons held 69,126 inmates, representing 117 percent of prison capacity. The number of inmates increased from the end of 2016. Detention conditions for women were often better than for men because overcrowding was less common.

Overcrowding was a serious problem in some overseas territories. For example, the occupancy rate was 281.5 percent of capacity at the Faa’a Nuutania prison in French Polynesia and 192.5 percent at the Baie-Mahault prison in Guadeloupe.

Although there were no known deaths in prison due to mistreatment or adverse conditions during the year, prison suicides remained a problem. The latest Ministry of Justice report issued in January 2016 stated 113 inmates committed suicide in 2015, a rate considerably higher than that outside prison.

In March, Bordeaux’s administrative court of appeal condemned the government for degrading living conditions at a prison in Agen and ordered the government to pay 1,500 euros ($1,800) in fines to the inmate who had filed the complaint.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, both local and foreign. In addition to periodic visits by the CPT, the UN Committee against Torture regularly examined prisons, most recently in April.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his/her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally observed these requirements. Lengthy pretrial detention, however, remained a problem.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

Under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior, a civilian national police force of 150,000 and a national gendarmerie of 98,155 maintained internal security. In conjunction with specific gendarmerie units used for military operations, the army was responsible for external security under the Ministry of Defense. Observers considered police and gendarmes generally effective.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the national police force, the gendarmerie, and the army, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate, prosecute, and punish human rights abuses and corruption. Official impunity was not widespread. The General Inspection of the National Police and the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police investigated and prosecuted allegations of brutality in the police force and the gendarmerie, a unit within the armed forces responsible for general law enforcement. The Defender of Rights investigated allegations of misconduct by municipal police, gendarmes, and private security forces and reported its findings to the prime minister and parliament. According to the 2016 Defender of Rights report, individuals filed 1,225 complaints against security forces in 2016.

In 2015 the Defender of Rights called for a ban on police use of flash-ball guns during demonstrations following several cases in which demonstrators sustained injuries from the weapon. In 2013 and 2014, the Defender of Rights was asked to examine seven cases in which serious injuries or permanent infirmities were allegedly sustained due to the use of flash-ball guns. In 2015 then interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced he would not ban police use of flash-ball guns. On March 3, the Criminal Court of Marseille handed down a six-month suspended sentence to a police officer for the involuntary manslaughter of a man in 2010 using a flash-ball gun.

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

The law requires police to obtain warrants based on sufficient evidence prior to detaining suspects, but police can immediately arrest suspects caught committing an illegal act. While in police custody, a person has the right to know the legal basis and expected duration of the detention, to remain silent, to representation by counsel, to inform someone such as a family member or friend, and to examination by a medical professional. Defense lawyers have the right to ask questions throughout an interrogation. Authorities generally respected these rights.

The law allows authorities to detain a person up to 24 hours if police have a plausible reason to suspect such person is committing or has committed a crime. A district prosecutor has the authority to extend a detention by 24 hours. A special judge, however, has the authority to extend detention by 24-hour periods up to six days in complex cases, such as those involving drug trafficking, organized crime, and acts of terrorism. A system of bail exists, and authorities made use of it.

Detainees generally had access to a lawyer, and the government provides legal counsel to indigent detainees. The law also requires medical examiners to respect and maintain professional confidentiality. The law forbids complete strip searches except in cases where authorities suspect the accused of hiding dangerous items or drugs.

Pretrial Detention: Long delays in bringing cases to trial and lengthy pretrial detention were problems. Although authorities generally allowed pretrial detention only in cases involving possible sentences of more than three years in prison, some suspects spent many years in detention before trial. As of August pretrial detainees made up approximately 28.2 percent of the prison population.

Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained, regardless of the nature of the charge(s), are entitled to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality, although delays in bringing cases to trial were a problem. The country has no independent military court; the Paris Magistrates Court tries any military personnel alleged to have committed crimes outside the country.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, and authorities informed defendants of the charges against them at the time of arrest. Except for those involving minors, trials were public and usually held before a judge or tribunal of judges. In cases where the potential punishment exceeds 10 years’ imprisonment, a panel of professional and lay judges hears the case. Defendants have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. Authorities provide an attorney at public expense if needed when defendants face serious criminal charges. Defendants were able to question the testimony of prosecution witnesses and present witnesses and evidence in their defense. Authorities allowed defendants adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Defendants have the right to remain silent and to appeal.

POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES

There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters and access to a court to submit lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations. Individuals may file complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the government once they have exhausted avenues for appeal through the domestic courts.

PROPERTY RESTITUTION

The government has laws and/or mechanisms in place, and NGOs and advocacy groups reported that the government made significant progress on resolution of Holocaust-era claims, including for foreign citizens.

In 2014 France and the U.S. also signed the Compensation for Certain Victims of Holocaust-Related Deportation from France Who are not Covered by French Programs Agreement to provide an exclusive mechanism for compensating persons who survived deportation from France, their surviving spouses, or their assigns, who were not able to gain access to the pension program established by the government for French nationals, or by international agreements concluded by the government to address Holocaust deportation claims. To implement the agreement, France transferred to the U.S. a payment of $60 million, to be used for making payments under the agreement.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

The nationwide state of emergency in effect until October 31 authorized law enforcement officers to search homes without a warrant, to read email and text messages, and to eavesdrop on telephone communications of persons suspected of having links to terrorism. The civil society group La Quadrature du Net continued to express concern that the state of emergency augmented authorities’ ability to carry out invasive searches of homes and seized cell phones. As of June 21, police carried out 4,200 antiterrorism raids across the country under the state of emergency.

The government continued implementing amendments to the law made in 2015 that allow specialized intelligence agencies to conduct real-time surveillance without approval from a judge on both networks and individuals for information or documents regarding a person identified as posing a terrorist threat. Since passage of the amendments, the Council of State has issued three implementing decrees designating the agencies that may engage in such surveillance, including using devices to establish geolocation. In 2016 the Constitutional Council struck down provisions in the code that allowed surveillance of radio communications that was not subject to “any substantive or procedural conditions” as well as the police practice of copying the data on any electronic device during a house search without the consent of the individual or judicial authorization.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government through free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Observers considered the April 23/May 7 presidential and the June 11/18 parliamentary (Senate and National Assembly) elections to have been free and fair.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Women and members of minority groups faced no political restrictions and actively participated in the political process.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were some reports of government corruption during the year.

The inspector general of National Police and the Inspectorate of the National Gendarmerie actively investigated and prosecuted allegations of police and gendarme corruption. Citizens may report police abuses via the Ministry of the Interior’s website, provided they identify themselves. In 2016 citizens registered 3,446 reports online.

Corruption: On June 30, the Versailles Appeals Court upheld the 2015 decision of a Nanterre court to sentence on corruption charges Senator Philippe Kaltenbach to two years in prison, including a one-year suspended prison sentence, to impose a 20,000-euro ($24,000) fine, and to render him ineligible for political office for five years.

Financial Disclosure: The president, members of parliament and the European Parliament, ministers, regional and departmental council heads, mayors of larger communities, and directors of government-owned companies (post office, railway, and telephone) are required to declare their personal assets to the Commission for the Financial Transparency of Political Life at the beginning and end of their terms. The commission issued and made available to the public periodic reports on officials’ financial holdings on a discretionary basis at least once every three years. Officials who fail to comply are subject to sanctions.

The Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Crimes investigates offenses including tax fraud, influence peddling, and failure of elected officials to make financial disclosures or report their own violations of the law.

On February 2, a Paris court found Senator Serge Dassault guilty of hiding tens of millions of euros from taxation in undeclared accounts in Liechtenstein and Luxembourg over a period of 15 years. He was fined two million euros ($2.4 million) for tax fraud and barred from holding elected office for five years.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is 15 years’ imprisonment, which may be increased. The government and NGOs provided shelters, counseling, and hotlines for rape survivors.

The law prohibits domestic violence against women and men, including spousal abuse, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for domestic violence against either gender varies from three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($54,000) to 20 years in prison.

In November the government’s Interministerial Agency for the Protection of Women against Violence and Combatting Human Trafficking (MIPROF) published data showing that, between 2012 and 2017, an annual average of 225,000 women between the ages of 18 and 75 declared that they had been victims of physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a partner or former partner. MIPROF reported that, over the same period, an annual average of 93,000 women declared that they had been victims of rape or attempted rape.

The report noted that 123 women were killed by their male partner or former partner in 2016.

The government sponsored and funded programs for female victims of violence, including shelters, counseling, hotlines, free mobile phones, and a media campaign. The government also supported the work of 25 associations and NGOs dedicated to fighting domestic violence.

The government budgeted 125 million euros ($150 million) to fund its 2017-19 interministerial plan to combat violence against women, a 50-percent increase over the previous three-year plan. The program’s three main objectives were ensuring women’s access to rights, strengthening public action to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as children, young women, and women living in rural regions, and uprooting the culture of sexism.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is practiced in the country, particularly within diaspora communities where FGM/C was prevalent. The law prohibits FGM/C as “violence involving mutilation or permanent infirmity.” It is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The government provides reconstructive surgery and counseling for FGM/C victims.

According to the Ministry of Gender Equality, 53,000 victims resided in the country. The majority were recent immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries where the procedure was performed. According to the Group against Sexual Mutilation, 350 excisions were performed in the country each year. In a November 2016 interministerial plan to combat violence against women, the government introduced new measures to prevent genital mutilation and support affected women and girls.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits gender-based harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is defined as “subjecting an individual to repeated acts, comments, or any other conduct of a sexual nature that are detrimental to a person’s dignity because of their degrading or humiliating character, thereby creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.”

A November report by MIPROF reported that the security forces registered 10,870 incidents of harassment and other threats committed by a partner in 2016, with female victims making up more than 88 percent of the total victims. The same report stated that in 2016 the Ministry of Justice sentenced 82 men for sexual harassment.

On August 9, parliament passed an ethics bill directed at parliamentarians and other elected officials, which included a measure that bars persons with a conviction for sexual harassment from running for public office.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .

Discrimination: The law prohibits gender-based job discrimination and harassment of subordinates by superiors but does not apply to relationships between peers. The constitution and law provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The Ministry of Gender Equality is responsible for protecting the legal rights of women. The constitution and law provide for equal access to professional and social positions and the government generally enforced the laws.

There was discrimination against women with respect to employment and occupation (see section 7.d.), and women were underrepresented in most levels of government leadership.

Children

Birth Registration: The law confers nationality to a child born to at least one parent with citizenship or to a child born in the country to stateless parents or to parents whose nationality does not transfer to the child. Parents must register births of children regardless of citizenship within three days at the local city hall. Parents who do not register within this period are subject to legal action.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 18. Child marriage was a problem. The law provides for the prosecution of forced marriage cases, even when the marriage occurred abroad. Penalties for violations are up to three years’ imprisonment and a 45,000-euro ($54,000) fine. Women and girls could seek refuge at shelters if their parents or guardians threatened them with forced marriage. The government offered educational programs to inform young women of their rights.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age of consent is 15 but prosecutors still have to prove sex was non-consensual to prove rape. Otherwise, sex with a minor is considered sex abuse, punishable with up to five years in prison as opposed to up to 20 years in the case of rape. The government generally enforced these laws effectively.

The law also criminalizes the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The minimum penalty for sexual exploitation of children is 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million). The law prohibits child pornography; the maximum penalty for its use and distribution is five years’ imprisonment and a 75,000-euro ($90,000) fine.

According to a November report by MIPROF, the security forces registered 7,570 acts of sexual violence against children under age 18 in 2016. Female victims made up more than 80 percent of this total.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

There were between 460,000 and 700,000 Jews in France in 2016, depending on the definitional criteria of who is Jewish, according to a 2016 report by Berman Jewish DataBank.

NGO and government observers reported numerous anti-Semitic incidents during the year, including physical and verbal assaults on individuals and attacks on synagogues, cemeteries, and memorials. As of January 2016, according to the Ministry of the Interior, security forces were protecting 12,000 sites across the country, of which 26 percent were Jewish.

On December 10 at a Conseil Representatif des Institutions juives de France (CRIF) convention in Paris, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the number of anti-Semitic acts in the country had dropped by 20 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared with the same period in 2016, according to Israeli media. He stated there were 216 anti-Semitic incidents during this period. According to press reports, anti-Semitism was causing a growing number of Jews to abandon their suburban homes for downtown Paris.

On April 4, a 27-year-old Franco-Malian man, Kobili Traore, killed his 65-year-old Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi. Neighbors heard Traore beating Halimi while reciting the Quran and shouting “Allah hu akbar” (“God is greatest”) and calling her Satan before throwing her from the third-story window of her apartment. On July 10, authorities arrested Traore and charged him for “voluntary homicide” and “sequestration.” The umbrella group of French Jewish communities, CRIF, and the NGO National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) criticized the prosecutor’s delay in filing an indictment and omission of the anti-Semitic motive behind it. On September 27, authorities added the charge of anti-Semitism to the indictment. The investigation continued at year’s end.

On September 7, three attackers forcibly entered the home of a Jewish family in Livry-Gargan, a suburb of Paris. They confined, beat, and threatened to kill the family of three, according to the BNVCA. Minister of the Interior Collomb said, “everything will be done to identify and arrest those who carried out this cowardly attack (which) appears directly linked to the victims’ religion.” On November 28, authorities arrested five individuals–four men and one woman–in connection with the attack. On December 1, authorities charged them with armed robbery, illegal detention, and extortion with violence, motivated by the victims’ religious affiliation. All five individuals were placed in pretrial detention. The case remained open at year’s end.

On September 18, a juvenile court in northeastern France ordered five teenagers, ages 15 to 17, who vandalized approximately 300 gravestones in the Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union in 2015, to perform 140 hours of community service each; the court, however, suspended an earlier decision to sentence the teenagers to prison to up to seven years.

Jewish community leaders objected to Front National Party politician Marine Le Pen’s statement on April 9 that the country was not responsible for the 1942 roundup and detention of 13,152 Jews at the Velodrome d’hiver stadium in Paris. At a Velodrome d’hiver roundup memorial event on July 16, President Macron reaffirmed the French government’s position that “it was indeed France that organized the roundup, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death.”

In June authorities upheld the charge of anti-Semitism in the indictment against five assailants for an attack committed in December 2014 against a 21-year-old man and his 19-year-old girlfriend in Creteil. One of the five attackers faced the charge of rape of the woman while another faced the charge of complicity in the rape; all five aggressors faced charges of theft or attempted theft, extortion, and false imprisonment with a weapon; or complicity.

On August 7, unknown persons vandalized a memorial in Lyon dedicated to 44 children and their seven adult supervisors who were arrested by the Lyon Gestapo in 1944 at the Children’s Home of Izieu and deported to concentration camps, where all but one adult died. The memorial was broken and removed from its base.

Former president Hollande, President Macron, and other government leaders condemned anti-Semitism during the year. On July 16, President Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a ceremony in Paris honoring the victims of the Velodrome d’hiver roundup. President Macron stated, “We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”

On October 2, Prime Minister Philippe announced a new initiative to combat online anti-Semitism during an address at Paris’ Buffault Synagogue to mark the Jewish New Year. He also confirmed the continuation of high-level security at Jewish community institutions.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions effectively.

While the law requires companies with more than 20 workers to hire persons with disabilities, many such companies failed to do so (see section 7.d.).

The law requires that buildings, education, and employment be accessible to persons with disabilities. According to government estimates, 40 percent of establishments in the country were accessible. In July 2015 parliament ratified decrees that extend the deadline for owners to make their buildings and facilities accessible by three to nine years. In May 2016 then president Hollande announced that 500,000 public buildings across the country were undergoing major renovation work to improve accessibility.

On January 19, a Bayonne criminal court fined easyJet Airline 60,000 euros ($72,000) for refusing to board a passenger with a disability. The airline denied boarding to the 55-year-old plaintiff, Joseph Etcheveste, in 2010, citing “security” reasons.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Societal violence and discrimination against immigrants of North African origin, Roma, and other ethnic minorities remained a problem. Many observers expressed concern that discriminatory hiring practices in both the public and private sectors deprived minorities from sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Asia of equal access to employment.

Citizens, asylum seekers, and migrants may report cases of discrimination based on national origin and ethnicity to the Defender of Rights. According to the most recent data available, the Defender of Rights in 2016 received 5,203 discrimination claims, 18 percent of which concerned discrimination based on ethnic origin.

Government observers and NGOs reported a number of anti-Muslim incidents during the year, including slurs against Muslims, attacks on mosques, and physical assaults. The National Islamophobia Observatory of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, citing interior ministry figures, registered 64 incidents and 118 threats against the Muslim community in 2016, representing a 48.4- and a 61.3-percent decrease, respectively, in the number of anti-Muslim incidents and threats from 2015.

According to media reports, in June the city of Lorette prohibited women wearing veils from accessing the city’s municipal swimming pool by adding “headscarves” to the pool’s list of prohibited items. The rules require a woman to wear a one-piece or two-piece bathing suit to access the pool.

In an April 25 ruling, the Paris Criminal Court fined the mayor of Beziers, Robert Menard, 2,000 euros ($2,400) for inciting hatred and discrimination through anti-Muslim comments. In September 2016 he had tweeted his “regret” at witnessing “the great replacement,” an allusion to a term used by xenophobic writer Renaud Camus to describe the country being “overtaken” by foreign-born Muslims. Menard was also prosecuted for an interview given in September 2016 in which he claimed the number of Muslim children in Beziers was “a problem.” The mayor was ordered to pay symbolic damages, of 1 to 1,000 euros ($1.20 to $1,200) to the seven antiracism organizations that had originally filed the suit against him.

Societal hostility against Roma, including Romani migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, continued to be a problem. There were reports of anti-Roma violence by private citizens. Romani individuals, including migrants, experienced discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.). Government data estimated there were 20,000 Roma in the country.

Authorities dismantled camps and makeshift homes inhabited by Roma throughout the year. In the first half of the year, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) reported the eviction of 4,382 Roma in 50 different localities. According to the ERRC and Human Rights League data, authorities evicted 10,119 Roma from 76 illegal camps in 2016, a 9-percent decrease from 2015, when 11,128 Roma were evicted.

On February 7, the country’s highest court upheld the conviction of Luc Jousse, the former mayor of Roquebrune-sur-Argens, for his anti-Roma statements in 2013. Jousse was fined 10,000 euros ($12,000) and disqualified from running for public office for one year.

On February 27, the Aix-en-Provence appeals found guilty and ordered Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front Party, to pay a 5,000-euro ($6,000) fine for inciting hatred against the Romani community in Nice. At a news conference in 2013, Le Pen described members of the Romani community as “irritating” and “smelly.”

In a report released September 12, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights criticized the country for continuing to “exclude disabled children, Roma(ni) children and migrants or refugees from mainstream schools.” The commissioner noted that inequality in the education system “perpetuates their marginalization.”

The government attempted to combat racism and discrimination through programs that promoted public awareness and brought together local officials, police, and citizens. Some public school systems also managed antidiscrimination education programs.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The statute of limitations is 12 months for offenses related to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. Authorities pursued and punished perpetrators of violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The NGO SOS Homophobie, a NGO supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights, reported 1,575 homophobic acts in 2016, a 19.5-percent increase from 2015. It reported 121 instances of physical assault, a 20-percent decrease from 2015.

On March 11, authorities arrested and indicted two men in Marseille for kidnapping and raping Zak Ostmane, an Algerian LGBTI activist and refugee. SOS Homophobie reported the two assailants drugged the victim in a gay bar in central Marseille, then took him to a hotel room where he was beaten and raped. Police rescued Ostmane two days later. The Marseille prosecutor’s office did not release the identities of the assailants.

Human rights organizations criticized the government for continuing to require transgender persons to go to court to change their gender legally.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The constitution and labor law provide workers the right to form and join unions of their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements. The law provides for the right to bargain collectively and allows unions to conduct their activities without interference. Workers, except those in certain essential services such as police and the armed forces, have the right to strike unless the strike threatens public safety. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and forbids removing a candidate from a recruitment procedure for asking about union membership or trade union activities. The Ministry of Labor treats discrimination as a criminal offense and prosecutes cases of discrimination by both individuals and companies. Individuals violating the law may be subject to punishment ranging from three years’ imprisonment and a 45,000-euro ($54,000) fine to up to five years’ imprisonment and a 75,000-euro ($90,000) fine if the discrimination occurs in a venue open to the public. Companies violating the law may be subject to punishment ranging from a minimum fine of 225,000 euros ($270,000) to a maximum fine of 375,000 euros ($450,000) if the discrimination takes place in a venue open to the public. These penalties were generally sufficient to deter violations.

Public-sector workers must declare their intention to strike at least 48 hours before the strike commences. In addition, a notification of intent to strike is permissible only after negotiations between trade unions and employers have broken down. Workers are not entitled to receive pay while striking. Wages, however, may be paid retroactively. For road transportation strikes, the law on minimum service provides for wages to be calculated proportionally to time worked while striking. Health-care workers are required to provide a minimum level of service during strikes. In the public transportation (buses, metro) and rail sectors, the law requires the continuity of public services at minimum service levels during strikes. This minimum service level is defined through collective bargaining between the employer and labor unions for each transportation system. Transportation users must also receive clear and reliable information on the services that would be available in the event of a disruption. Authorities effectively enforced laws and regulations prohibiting retaliation against strikers.

Workers freely exercised their rights to form and join unions, conduct union activities, and bargain collectively. Workers’ organizations stressed their independence vis-a-vis political parties. Some of their leaders, however, did not conceal their political affiliations. Although the law prohibits antiunion discrimination, union representatives noted that it occasionally occurred, particularly in small companies. Only 1.4 percent of the workforce in small companies takes part in workplace elections for labor union representatives. The government and employers respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The law recognizes the offenses of forced labor and forced servitude as crimes.

Men, women, and children, mainly from Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Asia, were subject to forced labor, including domestic servitude (also see section 7.c.). There were no government estimates on the extent of forced labor among domestic workers, many of whom were migrant women and children. In 2016 the NGO Committee against Modern Slavery assisted 167 victims of forced labor, including 125 women. The government attempted to address forced labor by providing financial support to NGOs that assist victims.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The minimum age for employment is 16. There are exceptions for persons enrolled in certain apprenticeship programs or working in the entertainment industry, who are subject to further labor regulations for minors. The law generally prohibits persons under the age of 18 from performing work considered arduous or dangerous, such as working with dangerous chemicals, high temperatures, heavy machinery, electrical wiring, metallurgy, dangerous animals, working at heights, or work that exposes minors to acts or representations of a pornographic or violent nature. Persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from working on Sunday, except as apprentices in certain sectors, including hotels, cafes, caterers, and restaurants. Youth are prohibited from working between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when they are under 16 and between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when they are between 16 and 18.

The government effectively enforced labor laws, although some children were exploited in the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and forced criminal activity. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor investigated workplaces to enforce compliance with all labor statutes. To prohibit violations of child labor statutes, inspectors may place employers under observation or refer them for criminal prosecution. Employers convicted of using child labor risk up to five years’ imprisonment and a 75,000-euro ($90,000) fine. These penalties proved generally sufficient to deter violations. According to the latest report of the Court of Audit released in 2016, there were 2,462 inspectors and comptrollers.

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The labor code prohibits discrimination based upon an individual’s national origin, religion, race, sex, lifestyle, sexual orientation, age, family situation, pregnancy, state of health or disability, economic situation and place of residence. Authorities generally enforced this prohibition.

A gender equality law provides measures to reinforce equality in the workplace as well as sanctions against companies whose noncompliance could prevent women from bidding for public contracts. The law also requires employers to conduct yearly negotiations with employees on professional and pay equity between women and men in companies with more than 50 employees.

Employment discrimination based on sex, gender, disability, and national origin occurred.

The law requires that women receive equal pay for equal work. On March 7, National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies released a study that indicated that in 2014, the most recent year for which data were available, the average annual private sector salary was 23,400 euros ($28,080) for men. Women on average earned 17,820 euros ($21,384) per year. Salary depended on qualifications, age, and sex. The same study also indicated that 18 percent of salaried men in the private sector held managerial positions, while 13 percent of women with similar skills were managers. Women constituted 63 percent of workers without an academic degree and were generally more likely to work part time, due in part to child-care responsibilities; 15.7 percent of women worked part time, compared with 9.2 percent of men.

The Fund Management Organization for the Professional Integration of People with Disabilities (AGEFIPH) reported the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities grew 25 percent in 2015, faster than the growth rate for the general population (10 percent). The law requires at least 6 percent of the workforce in companies with more than 20 employees to be persons with disabilities. The law requires noncompliant companies to contribute to a fund managed by AGEFIPH. Approximately 52 percent of companies met the requirement in 2013, while 48 percent contributed into the fund and a small number (mostly large corporations) received an exemption from the government based on a negotiated action plan, according to AGEFIPH. During the year President Macron initiated a plan to promote the inclusion of workers with disabilities in the workplace.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage met the poverty level. Employers, except those in the informal economy, generally adhered to the minimum wage requirement.

The official workweek is 35 hours, although companies may negotiate exceptions with employees. The maximum number of working days for workers is 235 days per year. Maximum hours of work are set at 10 hours per day, 48 hours per week, and an average of 44 hours per week during a 12-week work period. Workdays and overtime hours are fixed by a convention or an agreement in each sector in accordance with the labor code. Based on an executive order signed September 24 by President Macron, companies with fewer than 50 employees may negotiate working conditions directly with employees without involvement of labor unions.

Employees are entitled to a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and a weekly break of at least 24 hours total. Employers are required to give workers a 20-minute break during a six-hour workday. Premium pay of 25 percent is mandatory for overtime and work on weekends and holidays; the law grants each worker five weeks of paid leave per year for a full year of work performed. The standard amount of paid leave is five weeks per year (2.5 weekdays per month, equivalent to 30 weekdays per year). Some companies also allowed other compensatory days for work in excess of 35 hours to 39 hours per week called “spare-time account.” Work in excess of 39 hours per week was generally remunerated.

The government sets occupational health and safety standards in addition to those set by the EU. Government standards cover all employees and sectors. Individual workers could report work hazards to labor inspectors, unions, or (for companies with more than 50 employees) their company health committee, but they did not have an explicit right to remove themselves from a hazardous workplace.

The Ministry of Labor enforced the law governing work conditions and performed this responsibility effectively, in both the formal and the informal economy. The government permitted salaries below the minimum wage for specific categories of employment, such as subsidized jobs and internships, that must conform to separate, clearly defined standards. Labor inspectors enforced compliance with the labor law. Disciplinary sanctions at work are strictly governed by the labor code to protect employees from abuse of power by their employers. Employees could pursue appeals in a special labor court up to the Court of Cassation. Sanctions depend on the loss sustained by the victim and were usually applied on a case-by-case basis.

Penalties for labor violations depend on the status of the accused. The law provides for employers and physical persons convicted of labor violations to be imprisoned for up to three years and pay fines of up to 45,000 euros ($54,000) with additional penalties, including a prohibition on conducting a commercial or industrial enterprise. The law provides companies found guilty of undeclared work to be fined up to 225,000 euros ($270,000) and face additional sanctions, such as closing the establishment, placing it under judicial supervision, making the judgment public, confiscating equipment, or dissolving the establishment as a legal person.

Immigrants were more likely to face hazardous work, generally because of their concentration in sectors such as agriculture, construction, and hospitality services.

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