State of Emergency: FIDH Files Complaint against Ministor of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve and His Director of Civil Liberties

On Thursday, 25 February, 2016, FIDH, together with LDH and five persons formerly held under house arrest, filed two series of criminal complaints against the French Minister of the Interior and his Director of Civil Liberties.

These complaints allege infringements of individual liberties and counts of discrimination. The complaints [1] against Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of Interior, were filed with the French Court of Justice (“Cour de justice de la République”), the only court with jurisdiction to judge a minister for acts carried out in the performance of his duties.

In addition, criminal complaints [2] have been filed against the Director of Civil Liberties for the Ministry of the Interior (who signed the orders for house arrest under the Minister’s authority) with the Paris Court.

Under the state of emergency, all five plaintiffs were placed under house arrest by the Ministry of the Interior, following searches at their homes, between November and December 2015. These house arrests were all based on information taken from unsigned reports of French intelligence services (known as “notes blanches”), which were unattributed and uncorroborated by any other serious evidence, even though searches had been carried out at each of their homes.

The five plaintiffs had filed appeals with the administrative Administrative courtcourts, and each time the Ministry of the Interior decided to lift the house arrests before those appeals could be examined by the courts hearing the cases. The plaintiffs therefore suffered serious infringements of their freedom without a judge being able to rule on those infringements and the consequence thereof in terms of the responsibility of the authorities that issued those measures.

It was important for FIDH to join in these complaints. Since the state of emergency was first extended, our organisation has made its concerns publicly known, and it restated them on the 25th of February in an open letter signed by over 60 member organisations of FIDH, including of course LDH, to the French head of statePresident Hollande, requesting the cancellation of the state of emergency and denouncing potential abuses.

The purpose of these complaints is to obtain the opening of criminal investigations and to give judiciary judges (as opposed to administrative judges) ordinary judges the capacity to exercise effective control over the measures taken under the state of emergency. Since the state of emergency was declared, ordinary judiciary judges have been effectively stripped of the possibility of exercising control over potential serious infringements of individual liberties.

FIDH, which is also advocating within the group “We Will Not Yield” (link to site) will organise an international investigative mission into recent developments in the struggle against terrorism in France together with LDH from 14 to 18 March 2016: what findings? what consequences?

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