French police told to seize weapons of violent domestic partners

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French police have been reminded they must “systematically" confiscate weapons used by domestic violence abusers as soon as a complaint is lodged.

The orders, handed to regional police prefects by the Interior Ministry Saturday, are part of measures that resulted from a Grenelle (public consultations) against domestic violence and femicide in November 2019.

As well as seizing the weapons of violent spouses, a ministry statement said officials must also question everyone present, ask victims about the presence of weapons and check the criminal records of anyone possessing those weapons.

But critics say the rules – which took effect after following a vote in July – are too slow in being enforced, especially considering a third of murders in 2020 involved the use of firearms.

On Tuesday Equality minister Elisabeth Moreno said on Twitter the government was working on implementing all 46 measures put forward by the Grenelle and reaffirmed the government's engagement to protect vulnerable women and children.

As of November 2020, on the Grenelle's one-year anniversary, 28 of those had been put into action.

NGOs fighting violence against women warn it is too early to say if recent statistics showing a sharp drop in the number of femicides in 2020 is evidence of an enduring downward trend.

Official figures last week reveal 90 women were killed last year by their spouse or former spouse in France. The numbers, down from 146 such deaths in 2019, are the lowest since statistics were introduced 15 years ago.

In a video posted to Facebook last week, Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti said “every murder, every act of violence” was a failure for society.

“The results are still too modest, but they offer a glimmer of hope,” he said.