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Are there NGOs - other civil society organisations supporting victims of discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin and religion in court?

Key Area:
Anti-racist Policies & Organisations
28/12/2011 - 18:13
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism engaged as a plaintiff in 89 judiciary complaints in 2009 and 97 in 2008. In 2008, the LICRA obtained convictions in 94% of cases in which the organization was a plaintiff. According to LICRA’s Activities Report, this shows how important it can be that NGOs appear as plaintiffs in significant cases. Without having statistics to prove it, most of the member lawyers of the legal commission of LICRA observed that, when no NGO is involved on the case, only minor sentences are passed by the Court. On the contrary, when NGOs are plaintiffs in racist and anti-Semitic cases, sentences pronounced tend to be rather severe.

SOS Racisme, a national Non-Governmental Organisation, created in 1984 is also often the plaintiff in discrimination trials. If there are sufficient elements to process the case through court, volunteers ask victims to lodge a complaint about discrimination at the police station as a first step to the procedure. In the meantime, SOS Racism starts a legal procedure, by sending a “simple complaint” to the Prosecutor (written by the association's Vice-president or by a lawyer). Once all proof is consolidated, SOS Racisme brings a joint civil action with the complainant. In case the victim have a direct personal interest (employee, neighbour, lessor, seller or buyer), and can not afford legal assistance, they also advise him/her to get in touch with a network of professionals linked to SOS that accept to be court-appointed lawyers in spite of the weakness of the State aid for legal service they get.

The volunteers of the Mouvement Contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples provide guidance to formulate the complaint, and, if necessary, advise victims to get in touch with a network of practitioners linked to the MRAP that accept to be court-appointed lawyers. If volunteers consider that the case is both “relevant and exemplary”, they propose to the victim that the association brings a joint civil action. This decision is not taken according to the probability of being successful: for example, cases of police violence are extremely rarely sanctioned but the MRAP considers that the support of victims in such affairs is crucial to increase the awareness of the public.


Groups affected/interested
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Anti-racism
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