Thirteen people who claim they have been targeted by French police for identity checks, often with humiliating public pat-downs, because they're black or of Arab descent have gone to court to seek reparations and a change in police guidelines.

Their case is billed as a first of its kind in France.

The plaintiffs in Wednesday's case range from students to delivery personnel. One is an athlete. None has a police record but all claim they are subjected to ID checks because of the way they look.

A study conducted in Paris by the Open Society Justice Initiative with France's National Center for Scientific Research has shown that blacks have six times more chance of police checks than whites and those of Arab origin eight times more.