PARIS: A French law condemning the smacking of children has been struck down by the Constitutional Council, dismaying opponents of a practice for which France has been rapped by the UN. The Constitutional Council, which vets legislation, on Thursday rejected on technical grounds a law that asked parents to swear off hitting their children. Ruling on a challenge brought by a group of conservative senators, the court said the article, which was inserted into a law on equality and citizenship adopted by parliament in December, had "no connection" to the original bill and therefore violated parliamentary rules. -AFP

The article had not constituted an actual ban on smacking and did not provide for any punishment of "la fessée" - a practice that still has widespread support in France, to the dismay of many of its European neighbours.

The article only expanded the definition of parental authority in the Civil Code to include rejecting "all cruel, degrading and humiliating treatment, including all recourse to corporal violence".

The rule, which was welcomed by children's rights groups, was intended to be read out to couples when taking their wedding vows.