French mayor imposes curfew for under-13s


A French mayor said on Tuesday that he had introduced a curfew for children under 13. It is the latest measure of its kind to combat alleged youth violence.

Several French cities have introduced temporary curfews for children in the past.

However, youth violence has become an important political topic in France in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in June. The right-wing Rassemblement National leads in opinion polls against pres. Emmanuel Macron’s moderate party.

Last week, the government announced a similar measure in one of France’s overseas territories.

Robert Menard, the independent mayor in Beziers, ordered on Monday that all persons under the age of 13 in three neighborhoods may not be on the street between 11:00 p.m. and 06:00 a.m. unless they are accompanied by an adult. The curfew is in effect until September 30.

The curfew was apparently introduced in response to “an increasing number of young minors who are on their own late at night” and an increase in “urban violence”, but Menard did not provide any statistics to AFP to substantiate these claims.

According to a report by the Ministry of the Interior earlier this year, persons younger than 13 represent only two percent of persons accused of violence against others, and only one percent of those investigated for violent robberies.

Menard also argued that the under-13s in France “do not appear before judges and are sentenced”. However, the truth is that minors can be prosecuted, although juvenile courts take their age into account and impose a reduced sentence.

In 2018, the country’s highest administrative court rejected a similar order, which Menard issued four years earlier, because he “failed to present evidence of specific risks associated with minors under 13”.

Two arrests

Macron’s party will face fierce competition in the elections against Rassemblement National and his government has also spoken out strongly against youth violence in recent weeks.

Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, ordered on Thursday that everyone under 18 must stay indoors from 8:00 p.m. in a city in the overseas territory of Guadeloupe. This order comes into effect this week and will continue for two months.

The mayor of Pointe-a-Pitre claims minors represent 38% of those who commit crime in the city.

Christian Estrosi, mayor of the southern city of Nice, told BFM television that he was considering a similar curfew for under-13s in his city of more than 300,000 people.

Nice City Hall was unable to provide further details to AFP.

Hundreds of people, including representatives of trade unions and non-governmental organizations, marched in Beziers on Tuesday against the policies of Menard, who also supported a government plan to make school uniforms compulsory.

Benoit Teste of the FSU union said he was concerned that the government wanted to implement too many “right-wing” ideas.

FSU and fellow unions CGT and Solidaires said in a statement that two Solidaires student members “who committed no violence” were arrested at the march. The unions are demanding their immediate release.

Police in the Herault department said two people, who support the left-wing “antifa” (anti-Fascist) movement, were arrested for possession of firearms. The firearms were tear gas canisters.