Presumption of innocence under suspicion

French government gives in to prere from the street

The only one and a half years ago proudly as "great progress for our legal system" the law presented by the french government to strengthen the presumption of innocence and the rights of victims has already had to be revised: after the police and gendarmerie – the latter despite a ban on demonstrations, because the gendarmerie corps is part of the military- have become increasingly concerned about the "mountains of paperwork", in early january, the jospin government proposed a revision of the law, in response to the complaints that the new law had imposed on them and their ability to leverage their complaints in the media. The revision is expected to pass the national council before the end of the month and is being hailed by the human rights league, a judges’ union and numerous lawyers as a "opportunistic jerk" the government and "hollowing out the fundamental rights of citizens of the state" criticized. In particular, the rights of young french people from the urban periphery seem to be the primary target of a considerable number of new takedowns (the numbers that scare).

"The gangster bosses from the suburbs must be made to understand that there is nothing left to laugh about for them now," the socialist member of parliament, julien dray, said at the presentation of the revision to the national council. Mr. Dray had been commissioned by prime minister jospin to amend the law on the strengthening of the presumption of innocence of 15 december 2006. June 2000 and to evaluate its implementation in practice.

Handcuffing witnesses?

Should dray’s proposed changes actually pass the national council, witnesses could also be taken into police custody in the future, if "plausible evidence of involvement or complicity" in the course of "serious crimes" exist. This includes organized crime, pimping, terrorist acts or drug trafficking. How these terms, which experience has shown to be quite elastic, could then be interpreted exactly, only practice will show.

Furthermore, the possibility should be created to temporarily detain repeat offenders. Police unions had complained that the new handling of the presumption of innocence was going to force them to, "known offenders" the police were not in a position to protect the population because they had to return to free flow. This decrease triggered a heated parliamentary debate and, as the daily newspaper liberation suspects, is mainly due to the fact that the united nations is not involved in the negotiations "moped thieves and car arsonists" , "who are currently being released back into freedom after police custody and – sometimes – become recidivists the very next day."

The fact that on the first of january dozens of cars were once again set on fire in the suburbs – a strange new year’s tradition in france for several years now – and that this was widely publicized in the media, may well have played its part. But the blame is not always "sauvageon’s", the young savages from the suburbs, as an ex-minister of the interior once described them. Sometimes it is simply a question of an insurance fraud.

Parents in provisional detention

The revision of the law also provides for the possibility of temporarily detaining parents of children under the age of 10 to give the investigating judge an opportunity to "socialquete" to open. Father state had already raised doubts about the parenting skills of some parents last summer. Especially if the old timers have the misfortune to have a so-called "sensitive zone" to inhabit. Several cities had imposed nighttime curfews for under-10s in neighborhoods on the urban periphery (french cities impose nighttime curfews for minors).

Also what the "paperwork" the government has listened to the police unions: the law enforcement officers now have three hours to complete the formalities for police custody. The original version of the bill to strengthen the presumption of innocence had provided only one hour for this purpose. Of course, the right to the presence of a lawyer is not questioned at the very beginning of the police custody, lionel jospin tried to calm the tempers of the green and communist deputies in his speech before the national council. However, it will probably not stop at the mabbs of the revision project: the government has promised to address the right of suspects to remain silent as soon as possible. Police officers also complained that the right of suspects to refuse to answer questions was complicating procedures.

Red sheriff jospin

"For me, the security of our fellow citizens and the fight against impunity are among the responsibilities of the state", tries the "possible presidential candidate" jospin, as he calls himself, to position himself as a law and order man. In less than 100 days, a new head of state will be elected. Now is the time to take a stand on the security debate that has been raging in france for several months. A few weeks ago, the main focus was on terrorism. Now we return to the traditional topics, such as juvenile delinquency, the suburbs and maghreb descent. The latter is admittedly only openly formulated by the right-wing extremists à la le pen.

The controversial law on daily security (lsq) was not only aimed at the 11.September (the controversial french anti-terrorism package lsq is to be expanded). Among other things, it banned gatherings at the entrances to public housing, placed free parties under state supervision, and made 10 times fare evasion punishable by up to six months in jail. The network for the human rights, dh-rezo puts all these measures of a "declaration of war to the youth of the suburbs" same. It is feared that there will be a stigmatization of young residents of the urban periphery, which could rob them of their faith in a positive future in french society. The network has already launched a petition against "generalized suspicion" brought into being.

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