Skip to main content

Eighty-seven percent of the French public believes France should play a more active role on the European scene to protect human rights worldwide, Human Rights Watch said today. At a news conference to open its’ Paris office, held at Sciences-Po Paris, Human Rights Watch released the results of an opinion poll conducted by the French institute, Opinion Way. This poll showed the public wanted France to increase its commitment to human rights.

“One of our most important tools for defending human rights is our ability to persuade powerful governments to use their influence on behalf of victims,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “We view France as an important ally in our work. France is already known as the birthplace of many of the most important human rights ideals, and as a longtime partisan for the spread of those ideals throughout the world.”

Human Rights Watch’s new Paris Director Jean-Marie Fardeau said the group would look to the French government to use its European Union presidency in 2008 to improve protection for human rights defenders worldwide, to assist Senegal in organizing the trial of the former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, and to better protect the rights of vulnerable populations in France, especially those of migrants and asylum seekers.

Although Human Rights Watch is headquartered in New York, it has offices in London, Brussels, Berlin Geneva and many other cities. The new office will also be supported by a Paris Committee of influential people, led by Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber, who seek to foster respect for human rights (

“We hope through our presence to contribute to France’s support for human rights in various ways, particularly in Africa and the Middle East,” Roth said. “The detailed and timely information that Human Rights Watch researchers are collecting each day around the world can help sound the alarm when action is needed and can help guide that action to ensure its effectiveness.”

Human Rights Watch, which works in more than 70 countries to expose human rights violations and change policy, is also striving to raise awareness about abuses in Sudan, as well as in Chad and the Central African Republic, where France has troops. Roth also urged France, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, to keep violence against women on the UN agenda.

The other members of the Human Rights Watch Paris Committee are:
Robert Badinter, Claude Bébéar, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Constance Borde, William Bourdon, Gérard Bremond, Marc de Lacharrière , David de Rothschild, Mercedes Erra, Françoise Gaspard, Costa Gavras, Patrick Le Lay, Jacques Manardo, Christopher Mesnooh, Christine Ockrent, Pascaline Servan-Schreiber, Abderrahmane Sissako, Catherine Zennström.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country