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CRIME

France rolls out GPS trackers to curb domestic violence

French judges will soon have the option of requiring electronic tracking ankle bracelets for domestic violence offenders, the government said Thursday, as the country grapples with a growing number of women killed by current or former partners.

France rolls out GPS trackers to curb domestic violence
Photo: AFP

The measure, which has long been sought by rights advocates, was passed by parliament this year and will be gradually be rolled out starting Friday, according to a decree in France's government bulletin.

The move is part of a wider government crackdown on domestic violence promised by President Emmanuel Macron, who has announced increased training for police and the creation of 1,000 new places in emergency shelters.

The GPS monitor alerts women as well as police if known abusers get to within a certain distance of their victims.

 

Advocates of the device point to sharp decreases seen after their introduction in Spain and several US states.

Official statistics show that 146 women were killed in domestic violence cases last year, up from 121 in 2018.

Photo: AFP

Overall, the government estimates that more than 200,000 women are victims of marital violence each year, with many cases never reported.

The coronavirus crisis, which prompted a two-month nationwide lockdown last spring, also led to a surge in domestic violence as many women found themselves stuck with their abusers.

READ ALSO: The measures to help domestic violence victims trapped bu France's lockdown

Initially, courts in just five cities will be able to issue the ankle bracelets, but they will be available nationwide by the end of this year, the justice ministry said, adding that around 1,000 of the monitors are currently in stock.

Judges can order them for men convicted of assault or even as part of protection orders for women who report abuse, even before any criminal conviction.

In this case, the alleged offender must agree to wear the bracelet. If he refuses, the judge can order prosecutors to open a criminal inquiry.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti will present the new measure at a courthouse in the Paris suburb of Pontoise on Thursday.

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CRIME

French court acquits four over death of British schoolgirl

A French court on Wednesday acquitted three English teachers and a lifeguard accused over the 2015 drowning of a 12-year-old British schoolgirl in France.

French court acquits four over death of British schoolgirl

Jessica Lawson drowned in July 2015 after a swim in a lake with 23 other British children on a school trip. She died after the pontoon they were playing on capsized near Limoges in southwest central France.

The trial began Tuesday in nearby Tulle, attended by the child’s parents.

The suspects including the teachers from Hull, northeast England, and the lifeguard on duty at the time were charged with manslaughter caused by a “deliberate breach of safety or caution”.

The judges said on Wednesday there were too many elements in the case that were unclear including exactly when the child disappeared in the water.

The court also could not establish a link between the pontoon overturning and the schoolgirl’s death.

The local authority was also cleared of any role in the death.

It was the lifeguard who had found the missing child at the bottom of the lake (lac de la Triouzoune) on July 21 and she was airlifted to hospital. She died the next day.

The public prosecutor had requested a suspended sentence of three years for the teachers and the same for the lifeguard, who was 21 years old at the time, as well as a lifetime ban on doing similar work.

The suspects denied that they had failed to provide proper surveillance.

A lawyer for the schoolgirl’s family said they hoped the public prosecutor would appeal the court’s decision, pointing to many issues.

“A young girl of 12 disappeared, the pontoon was dangerous and there was an obvious lack of surveillance. Another court must hear this,” lawyer Eloi Chan told AFP.

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