After the States General on secularism, those on justice. The Elysee Palace announced their upcoming outfit, Saturday, June 5, in a brief press release. This decision comes after several weeks of controversy around the state of justice in France, fueled by the right and the police unions. After staying out of the controversy, Emmanuel Macron decided, to less than a year from the end of his term, to bring together the main players in the debate at the start of the school year. Here is what you need to know about these States General and the context in which they must be held.
A context of questioning of justice
The Sarah Halimi case set fire to the powder in mid-April, when the Court of Cassation confirmed the criminal irresponsibility of the murderer of this 64-year-old woman of Jewish faith, killed four years earlier in Paris. This decision led to demonstrations by several thousand people in France on April 25 and strong criticism of the law on criminal irresponsibility. The Head of State said he was in favor of a legislative change so that the abolition of discernment caused by taking drugs does not exempt from criminal liability. A bill is being prepared and should soon be presented to the Council of Ministers.
At the same time, on April 17, the Assize Court of Evry (Essonne) delivered a more lenient verdict than at first instance, during the appeal trial in the case of the burned police officers at Viry-Châtillon in 2016 The court acquitted eight defendants and sentenced the others to terms ranging from 6 to 18 years in prison, in light of the of “doubts” and “uncertainties” on the involvement of certain defendants, according to the reasons for the verdict that France Inter was able to consult.
At the call of their unions denouncing the slowness and “laxity” justice, tens of thousands of police demonstrated on May 19 in front of the National Assembly, notably supported by the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin. A part of the political class, in particular on the right and the extreme right, seized the subject. Presidential candidate, the president of the Hauts-de-France region Xavier Bertrand, for example, proposed to modify the Constitution in order to be able to condemn “automatic penalties” aggressors of several types of professionals, including the police.
An institution annoyed by these criticisms
During the police demonstration in front of the Palais Bourbon, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, called inside the Hemicycle not to “to oppose justice and the police”. “Police officers and magistrates are in the same boat “, a insisted the Keeper of the Seals. Earlier, the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) had rebelled against “accused” justice in these two cases “painful”. “The judiciary must be able to continue to judge, free from pressure, with complete independence and impartiality”, had written the organ in a press release, calling “to measure”.
At the same time, François Molins, one of the highest French magistrates, had denounced in an interview with World the trial in “laxity” done, according to him, to justice. The Attorney General of the Court of Cassation was received by Emmanuel Macron on Friday, June 4, with Chantal Arens, the first president of the Court of Cassation. François Molins and Chantal Arens told AFP on Saturday that they wanted “sound an alarm signal” It front of “systematic questioning of justice”. According to details provided by the Elysee to AFP, it is these “two highest magistrates in France” who themselves suggested to the President the organization of the Estates General.
Debates from September
Eric Dupond-Moretti’s entourage also specified on Saturday that the States General of Justice will take place “over several weeks from the start of the school year in September, and without self-censorship”. All the actors of justice will be invited, “as well as prison staff, internal security forces and citizens”.
In its press release, the Elysee adds that the president wants “the Keeper of the Seals reports annually to Parliament on the government’s penal policy”. Katia Dubreuil, the president of the Syndicat de la magistrature, interviewed on franceinfo on Saturday, recalls, however, that this possibility “already exists in article 30 of the Code of Criminal Procedure”.
An announcement received quite favorably
“As guarantor of the judicial institution, it was time for Emmanuel Macron to have a word”reacted Cécile Mamelin, vice-president of USM, the main magistrates’ union. And to add: “It must also include civil justice, which is everyday justice.” “We debate on the wind, on impressions, various facts”, is wary of her side Katia Dubreuil. “We have no information on the format and the precise object of these States General. They are launched after four years, one year before the end of the term of office and while there have been two reforms of the justice system. … highlighted the president of the Syndicat de la magistrature. Maybe there will be a change in the government’s position on justice, but it is a bit early to tell. “
Emmanuel Baudin, secretary general of FO-Pénitentiaire, sees in the presidential announcement “rather a good thing”. His union had asked Emmanuel Macron in May to organize a general meeting of the prison administration. As for lawyers, Jérôme Gavaudan, the president of the National Bar Council, also welcomes “favorably” this decision. But “what we do not want, and we will be very vigilant on this point, is that it could become a place of political or electoral fight” in the run-up to the 2022 presidential election.
Regarding the police, Grégory Joron, deputy general secretary of the SGP Police-FO unit union, welcomes “good news” but wait to see the contents and the calendar of this meeting. “The political calendar means that there is little time left for the president to work calmly on this subject which will require going in depth”, he explains on franceinfo. The trade unionist will ask that the police be received within the framework of these States General. “I think we all have the same goal : have a public service up to and above all that we respect these two kingly pillars that are the police and the justice. “