The Council of State inflicted on Thursday a severe disavowal on Gerald Darmanin by canceling several key provisions of the plan of the maintenance of order, of which the technique of the “trap” and the obligation made to the journalists to leave the demonstrations.
“It’s great for freedom of information,” reacted to AFP Dominique Pradalié, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ). “Once again, the government is being pinned down for non-respect of fundamental rights”, rejoiced the CGT and the SNJ-CGT.
Everyone welcomed the Council of State’s reminder of the importance of the freedom to inform.
The Interior Ministry promised in the early evening that “modifications would be made” to its law enforcement plan to “achieve the objectives of the text, while respecting the guidelines of the Council of State’s decision” .
The highest court of the administrative authority had been seized by associations and unions, in particular journalists, standing against this text published on September 16 and carried by the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin.
In a statement accompanying its decision, the Council of State recalled that the technique of the “trap” was planned “to control, question or prevent the continuation of disturbances to public order”.
“If this technique may prove to be necessary in certain precise circumstances, it is likely to significantly affect the freedom to demonstrate and to undermine the freedom to come and go”, add the judges, stressing that the text “does not however did not specify the cases in which it would be recommended to use it “. Hence his decision to cancel it.
It is “a huge step forward for all the demonstrators”, commented to AFP, Me Patrice Spinosi, lawyer of the SNJ and the League of Human Rights (LDH).
– Second setback –
With regard to the press, the Council considered that journalists “do not have to leave the premises when a crowd is dispersed” and that they do not have either “the obligation to obey the orders of dispersal “of the police.
“Journalists must be able to continue to exercise their information mission freely, even when a crowd disperses,” added the Council. “They cannot therefore be required to leave the premises, since they position themselves in such a way that they cannot be confused with the demonstrators or obstruct the action of the police”.
The Sages further estimated that the “Minister of the Interior cannot impose conditions on the wearing of protection by journalists”.
In a circular on the maintenance of order, they added, the minister cannot “enact this type of rules for journalists as for any person participating or attending a demonstration”.
The Council of State also rejected the accreditation of journalists, whether or not they have a press card, to have access to the real-time news channel set up during demonstrations.
This decision constitutes, in less than a month, a second setback for Gérald Darmanin after the censorship, on May 20, by the Constitutional Council of ex-article 24 of the law on global security.
Now article 52 of this law, this provision provided for punishing “provocation to the identification of the police”, a new incrimination which had aroused an outcry from the defenders of public freedoms.
The national law enforcement plan and the comprehensive security law mobilized many detractors last fall.
At the beginning of May, a commission, chaired by the former president of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights Jean-Marie Delarue and responsible for easing tensions between the media and the police, had submitted to Prime Minister Jean Castex its report accompanied by 32 recommendations.
Among these were the cancellation of accreditations to journalists to cover a demonstration and that of their obligation to disperse at the end of the event.