Article (unofficial translation) published by the Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) on 27/10/2023 – accessible here.
The Minister of the Interior is continuing his policy against freedom of assembly and expression by issuing a new salvo of decrees banning demonstrations in favor of peace, after the one aimed at preventing mobilizations against the pension reform.
On October 12, 2023, the Minister of the Interior asked, in a telegram, all prefects of departments to systematically ban all demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people, explaining that each of them should be regarded as inviting support for Hamas, at the very moment when, on the one hand, the international community stressed the importance of promoting a political solution and when, On the other hand, the Israeli army announces the imminence of a ground offensive that will result in a more massive use of artillery and ground fighting.
The prefects applied themselves to this and banned gatherings responding to the call for peace in almost the entire country.
Hearing an appeal against this telegram, the summary judge of the Council of State, by an order dated October 18, 2023, recalled that it was up to the prefects alone to assess on a case-by-case basis and under the control of the administrative judge whether it was necessary to prohibit a demonstration with a direct link to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, regardless of which party it is intended to support and that the prefects could not legally decide on a ban solely by reference to the telegram transmitted by the minister or on the sole grounds that the demonstration in question is aimed at supporting the Palestinian population.
Since then, the summary judges of several administrative courts have suspended the orders banning demonstrations declared by the association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) for peace and ceasefire in Gaza.
In this regard, the LDH has lodged several applications for interim relief on the basis of the manifest infringement of the fundamental freedom to demonstrate:
- Court of Appeal of Dijon of 21 October 2023 (n°2302972) suspending the execution of the prefectural decree of 20 October 2023 banning gatherings on 21 October 2023 in Dijon;
- TA of Rennes, of 21 October 2021 pronouncing the suspension of the execution of the prefectural decree of 20 October 2023 banning gatherings on 21 October in Rennes;
- TA of Nantes of October 24, 2023 suspended the execution of the prefectural decree of October 21, 2023 prohibiting gatherings in Laval. The LDH was a voluntary intervener in support of the application for interim relief brought by the organisers;
- Court of Appeal of Dijon, October 25, 2023, (n°2303004) pronouncing the suspension of the execution of the prefectural decree of October 24, 2023 prohibiting gatherings on October 25, 2023 at 17 p.m. in Auxerre;
- TA of Nancy, of 25 October 2023 (n°2303096) suspending the execution of the prefectural decree of 23 October 2023 banning gatherings on 25 October 2023 in Nancy
Only the Toulouse Administrative Court, of 20 October 2023, rejected the LDH’s request in accordance with the procedure provided for in Article L.522-3 of the Code of Administrative Justice – with an exemption from adversarial debate as long as the request is not urgent or it appears obvious that it is ill-founded –, considering that the prefectural decree prohibiting the assembly in Toulouse on 20 October does not appear to be seriously undermining and manifestly illegal to the freedoms of expression and demonstration.