FRANCE: Victory for Alternatiba as a court rejects a request to withdraw its subsidies

Statement (unofficial translation to English) published by Alternatiba on 30/11/2023 – accessible here.

The administrative court rejected the requests of the prefect of Vienne who attacked the subsidies received by Alternatiba Poitiers. This high-profile case is the first in which the controversial Republican Engagement Contract (CER) has been used as a pretext, in this case to challenge workshops on civil disobedience.

The court also held that a sanction on behalf of the ERC is only justified if the association’s action has caused serious violence or disturbance, in addition to being illegal. Alternatiba and ANV-COP21 welcome this decision and still call for the withdrawal of the ERC, and more generally to remain mobilized in the face of the numerous attacks on associative freedoms.

The administrative court of Poitiers issued its decision following the hearing on 9 November. This lawsuit was triggered by the prefect of Vienne who challenged the subsidies granted in 2022 by the City of Poitiers and by the Grand Poitiers to Alternatiba Poitiers for the organization of a village of alternatives. His excuse? The program included a workshop on civil disobedience, as well as a radio program inviting actors in the fight against mega-basins. For the prefect, this contravenes the Republican Commitment Contract (CER), a mechanism included in the “separatism law” adopted in 2021.

A Double Victory for Associations

On Thursday, the court rejected all the prefect’s requests, following the opinion of the public rapporteur. And he went further, clarifying certain grey areas in the legislative text.

« This is the first time that a court has ruled on whether an action that is manifestly contrary to the law in itself constitutes a violation of the RAC, or whether it must also be violent or have resulted in a serious disturbance of public order. ” says Me Mathonnet, lawyer representing Alternatiba Poitiers.

The Court of Poitiers thus laid down the rule that in order to be sanctioned, “the association that has benefited from this subsidy must have undertaken or encouraged to undertake actions, not only “manifestly contrary to the law“, but also “violent or likely to lead to serious disturbances of public order“.

This first decision is therefore a point of support in the face of the numerous attacks on freedom of association, and in particular associations that organize non-violent civil disobedience actions.

« We are very pleased with the informed judgment of the administrative court and its vigilance. This is a hope for all the associations currently under attack in their freedom of expression by the ERC text. “, says Christiane Queyreix, spokesperson for Alternatiba Poitiers. “Contrary to the declarations of the prefecture, Alternatiba Poitiers has demonstrated, with the Village of Alternatives in September 2022, that a society based on human links is possible. A desirable society, which combines conviviality, the development of alternatives and the fight against the violence of ongoing climate-killing projects, sometimes supported by the government such as mega-basins. »

For Alternatiba and Non-violent Action COP21 (ANV-COP21), the attacks against associations that fight for the general interest must stop. Civil disobedience actions are part of a wide range of ways to mobilize for a more just and sustainable world, combining alternatives to non-violent resistance. For 2024, Alternatiba and ANV-COP21 are preparing a new Tour Alternatiba, where the passage of multi-seater bikes will be an opportunity to massively mobilize citizens everywhere in France for climate and social justice.