Judicial condemnation: Assessing the European court's verdict on France's treatment of Harkis

At ten in the morning on April 4, 49-year-old Charles Tamazount was nervously refreshing the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) website. He finally read a ruling acknowledging the pain he and fellow harkis from the Lot-et-Garonne camp had undergone after five years of waiting. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had denounced France for violating these children’s “right to respect for private and family life” and for exposing them to “inhuman or degrading treatment.” This unanimous ruling brought to light the intolerable living circumstances and violations of personal freedoms that the petitioners and other inhabitants of the Bias camp endured.

European court’s ruling

Attorney and president of the Harkis and Truth Committee Charles Tamazount had taken the case before the ECHR on behalf of his sister Zohra and his three brothers, Abdelkader, Aissa, and Brahim. They were raised behind barbed wire in the Bias camp following the conclusion of the Algerian War in 1962, and they claimed the state had violated six provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. They were born in the camp in 1974. The Algerian parents of harkis, who were in the French army, denied their offspring access to fundamental rights including privacy, fair trials, and education. The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights brought to light the French government’s disregard for the rights of these kids and their families. The court criticized the authorities for their insufficient response to the children’s educational requirements and clearly declared that denying them access to education constituted cruel treatment. Charles Tamazount interprets this decision as a request that France reconsider how it plans to recognize and deal with the Harkis tragedy. 

Assessment of evidence and testimonies

Charles Tamazount views the ECHR’s ruling as a critical turning point in the fight for the harki community’s justice and the accountability of the French government. According to him, this decision ought to force France to face its history and offer just compensation and acknowledgement for the misery endured by the harkis and their offspring. Tamazount hopes to guarantee that the harkis’ legacy is not lost and that the government recognizes and responds to the continued effects of their experiences by advocating for legal action and restitution. The European Commission acknowledged the concerns expressed by independent authorities and civil society regarding the law on “separatism” that went into effect in early 2022 and its possible effects on civic space, specifically on freedoms of expression and association, in its July 2022 Rule of Law report. The bill, which is widely believed to run the danger of disproportionately harming Muslims, broadens the list of reasons for dissolution of groups by executive decree.

Reactions and responses

The ruling was reached by the court’s seven justices in unanimity; not even the French delegate distanced himself from his peers. In their decision, they stated that “the day-to-day living conditions of the residents of the Bias camp, the four applicants included, had not been compatible with respect for human dignity and had moreover involved infringements of their individual freedoms.” They believed that France had gravely failed in its obligations by disregarding their right to privacy and life. In addition, they were denied access to French schools, cheated out of their parents’ family allowance payments to maintain the camp, and denied a fair trial.

Impact on recognition and rights of Harkis in France

In April, following record victories for the extreme right and campaigns tainted by some candidates’ racist and intolerable rhetoric, President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected. In order to lessen the consequences of inflation, the government implemented a number of buying power measures, but its effects on the most disadvantaged people continued to be of great concern. Asylum applicants from other crises and wars experienced abuse in spite of tremendous efforts to assist those from Ukraine

Authorities in charge of child protection frequently neglected to give unaccompanied migrant children the proper attention and assistance. Discrimination and acts of racist violence persisted as issues. Freedom of association is threatened by a statute that forbids “separatism.” While there has been tremendous progress in reproductive rights, the number of women dying from domestic abuse has grown.


In conclusion, In addition to being a step toward admitting the past injustices experienced by these people and their families, this lawsuit offers a long-awaited triumph for the Harki community. Charles Tamazount has made it possible for the harkis in France to receive more justice and compensation by bringing their complaints before the ECHR and winning a positive ruling. The decision emphasizes the value of using the legal system to pursue justice for past wrongs and serves as a reminder of the continuous fight for oppressed populations’ recognition and rights.

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