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FRANCE: The Council of State suspends in summary proceedings the dissolution of an anti-fascist group

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Article published by the French Council of State on 16/05/2022 (unofficial translation in English by the European Civic Forum)

The interim relief judges of the Council of State today suspended the dissolution of the Groupe Antifasciste Lyon et Environs (GALE) pronounced by the Government on 30 March. They consider that the evidence put forward by the Minister of the Interior does not demonstrate that GALE incited violent actions and seriously disturbed public order.

On 30 March 2022, the Government dissolved the Groupe Antifasciste Lyon et Environs, known as “GALE”, on the basis of the Internal Security Code (Article L. 212-11). The group and one of its members asked the interim relief judge of the Council of State to suspend the dissolution as a matter of urgency, claiming that the freedoms of association, assembly, expression and opinion had been infringed.

A group can be dissolved for serious disturbance of public order

The Internal Security Code provides that groups that incite violent acts against persons or property and seriously disturb public order may be dissolved by the Government.

Violent actions, calls for hatred and violence against the police, violent publications on social networks… The three judges of the Council of State’s summary proceedings, meeting as a panel, examined the elements put forward by the Minister of the Interior to justify the dissolution of this group.

The facts of which GALE is accused do not justify its dissolution

They now consider that the elements held against the group, both individually and as a whole, do not justify its dissolution under the Internal Security Code.

While GALE has relayed on its social networks calls to participate in demonstrations – some of which were undeclared and which may have generated serious public order disturbances, as part of the so-called “yellow vests” movement or against the health pass – the grouping has not been at the origin of these calls. Moreover, it has not been demonstrated that the violent actions committed there were linked to GALE’s activities.

Furthermore, the Council of State’s interim relief judges observed that the group’s publications on its social networks could not be considered in themselves as legitimising the use of violence. Although the group made radical and sometimes brutal statements, or relayed information on violence against the police with questionable complacency, it could not be considered to have called for violent action.

For these reasons, the interim relief judges of the Council of State are today suspending the decree dissolving the group.

END

“It is a very important ruling, very protective of freedom of expression,” Antoine Lyon-Caen, one of GALE’s lawyers, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The Council of State rejected this argument and considered ‘that they were covered by freedom of expression'”, added Mr Lyon-Caen. This interim injunction “got to the bottom of things”, the lawyer was also pleased to say.

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