UN says French activist faced threats for cooperating with it

FILE PHOTO: Assa Traore poses during an interview with Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - French human rights activist Assa Traoré, the sister of a victim of police brutality, faced threats after she cooperated with a United Nations committee working on racial discrimination, according to a U.N. report published on Tuesday.

Traoré's brother Adama died in police custody in 2016, prompting street protests and calls to address what rights groups say is the issue of brutality and racism within the French police force. The case against the officers involved was dismissed earlier this month.

The report of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on intimidation of and reprisals against those cooperating with the U.N. said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination raised threats directed against Assa Traoré with the French government.

It is rare that Western countries are listed in the report, which in its latest edition covered cases of intimidation against individuals who cooperated with the U.N. in 41 countries.

The Committee queried France about "allegations of online libellous messages and threats, including from the accounts of two police trade unions, against Ms. Assa Traoré, following her cooperation with the Committee," the report said.

It also urged France to ensure her safety and investigate the case.

In a reply to the Committee's letter, France's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Jérôme Bonnafont, said the country took note of the situation and reaffirmed the committee's freedom to interact with rights activists.

"The French authorities reiterate their full determination to prevent and respond to all forms of intimidation and reprisals against any person having cooperated with United Nations mechanisms," said Bonnafont in a letter dated Jan. 12, 2023.

The French diplomatic mission in Geneva did not immediately have additional comment.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva and Juliette Jabkhiro in Paris; Editing by Mark Potter)