FRANCE: Associations denounce an amendment that threatens to gag civil society

Joint statement (unofficial translation) published by the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) on 18/10/2023 – accessible here.

On Friday 13 October, AN AMENDMENT to the Finance Bill was adopted by the Finance Committee of the National Assembly: the latter, drafted by the FNSEA and taken up in different forms by deputies from the right, the far right and the majority, aims to suspend tax benefits to any organisation that appeals to the generosity of the public [1] in the form of donations, payments and bequests when they are convicted of certain criminal offences. It expands the list of such offences to include defamation, incitement to commit offences, occupying land belonging to another person and damaging property. Environmental, citizen and peasant associations [2] strongly denounce this amendment which, if definitively adopted and implemented, would hit the organizations that denounce the excesses of our agricultural and industrial system, via the press or resolutely non-violent actions of civil disobedience. This amendment dangerously expands the list of offences that can remove tax benefits, thus characterising a serious violation of the freedoms of association and expression. The associations ask the government to do everything possible to ensure that this measure is rejected, including if the text of the Finance Bill were to be adopted with the use of 49.3.

At a time when the climate crisis is particularly impacting the agricultural sector, which urgently needs to be transformed, this amendment seeks to deprive certain actors, essential to the democratic debate, of their ability to act as whistleblowers. Public denunciation and civil disobedience actions, like many whistleblower actions, have led to many advances by lifting the veil on animal suffering in certain slaughterhouses and farms, on the environmental impacts of an industrial agricultural system, or on the fraudulent practices of the agri-food system. More generally, this text, if applied, would affect all civil society organizations, well beyond those working on agricultural and food issues.

Faced with this new attempt to intimidate civil society, organizations will continue to tirelessly defend the freedoms of opinion and demonstration, which are so essential in the face of the hardships we are going through and for democracy, and to alert citizens to these security abuses.

[1] Including associations, foundations, local authorities, and certain public institutions.
[2] List of signatory organisations:, Action Non-Violente COP21, Agir pour l’Environnement, Alofa Tuvalu, Alternatiba, Amnesty International, Assiettes Végétales, Attac France, Bio consom’acteurs, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Convergence Animaux Politique, Collectif des Associations Citoyennes, Fédération Artisans du Monde, Fondation Droit Animal, Éthique et Sciences (LFDA), Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme, Foodwatch France, Générations Futures, Greenpeace France, L214 Éthique & Animaux, LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme), Les Ami.e.s de la Confédération paysanne, Les Amis de la Terre, SOL, Alternatives Agroécologiques et Solidaires, MIRAMAP, Oxfam, Notre Affaire À Tous, TransiTerra, Terre de Liens, Réseau Civam, Réseau Environnement Santé, Reclaim Finance, Réseau National des Ressourceries et Recycleries, Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire, WWF France