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Mr. Skander Vogt was a Swiss citizen born in 1980. In 1995, he arrived to Switzerland with his sister and both were placed into foster care. In 1996, he was deported from Switzerland to Tunisia. In 1997, he was back to Switzerland.

On January 2001, he was condemned to 20 months in jail for minor offenses. But the judge suspended the sentence and ordered his unlimited detention on the ground of the “mental health” of Mr. Vogt to prevent “endangerment of others” under the notorious article 43 of the Swiss penal code. The applicant was then transferred 19 times between various prisons (EPO, Pöschwies, Thoerberg).

On July 5th 2006, the federal tribunal rejected one of his motion for conditional release.

On November 20th 2006, he submitted an application (see below) to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his unlimited detention in a prison from June 2001 was in a violation of articles 5 and 4 of protocol 7 of the Convention and that the solitary confinement in “high security wing” and the transfers between prisons were a violation of article 3 of the Convention. He added that the refusal to grant his motion for conditional release were taken in violation of article 6 of the Convention. He is represented by Me Isabelle Coutant-Peyre (Paris).

On January 1st 2007, the article 43 of the penal code was replaced by the new article 64 of the penal code.

On February 27th 2008, his lawyer asked the Court that his application be dealt in priority due to the urgency of the questions raised (art.41 of the rules of the Court).

On March 11th 2010, the applicant is left to die in his burned cell of the prison EPO by laughing wardens and police officers. His lawyer informed the Court that the case is now being pursued by the sister of the applicant.

Today, his application is still pending more than 4 years after being filled and has still not be communicated by the Court to the agent of the Swiss government.

On July 13th 2009, Mr. Duteil holder of probationary driver license, was stopped by a police officer. He was issued a citation because he was charged with the contravention of driving under the influence (art.  R234-1 of the road code). The citation mentioned : “point (s) driver’s license penalty”. The applicant paid a fine of 90€.

On November 25th 2009, he was informed that following to the payment of the fine 90€, his driver license was invalidated by the Minister of Interior.

Under article L223-1 of the road code, the prepayment of the fine by the suspect is assimilated to a guilty plea in the contravention. Then the Minister of Interior sentences the suspect.

The probationary driver license hold 6 points at issuance. The contravention of driving under the influence  (art.  R234-1 of the road code) carries 6 points penalty in addition of the fine of 4th category. It may also result in the suspension of the driver license  for up to 3 years.

Any driver license which hold 0 points is invalidated. In this case, the driver have  to wait 6 months before passing the driving and theory exams, after being registered with a French driving school, notorious for their high tuition fees.

On January 11th 2010, Mr. Duteil filed an application (see below) to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the lack of information on the penalty if a guilty plea is entered is a violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3-a) of the Convention. Moreover, according to the applicant, the absence of information on the penalty made him renounce  illegally to his right to a public hearing by an tribunal in violation of article 6-1 and 13 of the Convention and he can’t appeal the interdiction for him to drive for 6 months which is according to him, an interference in his right to travel freely (art.2-3 protocol no 4). The applicant was represented by Me Frederic Casanova (Toulon).

On April 20th 2010, a chamber presided by Judge  Peer Lorenzen found the application to be inadmissible under article 35-3-a) of the Convention (manifestly ill-founded) and stated that the applicant could have ask verbally legal information about the penalty to…the police officer who issued the citation or to the driver license department “within 45 days.” But the applicant was not informed of these rights and nothing indicates that the police officer and the driver license department have the legal capacity to offer such information.

The chamber also mistakenly stated that the driver was cited under article L234-1 of the road code instead of  art.  R234-1 of the road code.

On October 12th 2010, the same chamber found  in decision SARL Comptoir aixois des viandes v. France (19863/08) that police officers were responsible during house search of the legal defense of the suspect (“chargés (..) des droits de la défense“).

These two decisions of inadmissibility manifestly ill-motivated raise concern on the quality and the seriousness of  the decisions  taken by this chamber presided by Judge  Peer Lorenzen.

By the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010, the French supreme court (Cour de cassation) released officially the information that Mr. H, a French scientist was arrested on October 8th 2009 at 6:05  at his home in Vienne (France). He was interrogated by police officers in the absence of his lawyer during a police custody which lasted 91h25.  He was then detained under an arrest warrant  issued by an investigating judge (art.122 of the code of penal procedure).

According to one of his family member, Mr. H was detained ever since in the notorious prison of Fresnes pending further investigation (visit report of CPT in 2006). His police interrogation is described by the same source as “very very harsh” and from October 2009 to February 2010, Mr. H was placed in the infirmary of the prison (“national public health center of Fresnes“). Since then, he has limited access to health care and has to walk with a cane. Moreover, in January 2011, he was violently attacked by another inmate in the yard. In a letter, Mr. H describes the detention condition in the prison of Fresnes as a “permanent  and multiple violations of [the] human rights [of the detainees]” and complains of the cold and humidity of his cell.

The investigation file on Mr. H and the charges he is facing 16 months after his arrest are still secret (art.11 of the code of penal procedure) as the district attorney of the tribunal of Paris, Mr. Jean-Claude Marin never released officially any information on the case. There is no indication that this secret investigation will lead to a trial.

According to his lawyer Me Dominique Beyreuther-Minkov (Paris), the attorney general of the appeal court of Paris, Mr. Francois Falletti even obtained that all the detention hearings of Mr. H are held in secret by an investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris. This in derogation with article 199 of the code of penal procedure. She added that the rulings by the appeal court of Paris, on the detention of Mr. H, were also secret.  This appears to be a violation  of article R156 of the code of penal procedure.

The attorney general office of the appeal court of Paris didn’t return our email requesting official information on the cause of the arrest and detention of Mr. H, the charges he is facing, and a copy of the rulings of the appeal court of Paris on his detention pending investigation.

Following the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010,  his lawyer stated that she will file an application with the ECHR invoking the violation of article 6 due to the absence of his lawyer during the police interrogation.

Mr. H is also determined to file an application with the ECHR for violations of articles 5-3 and 5-4 of the Convention if his appeals of the detention rulings are rejected by the supreme court.

Update May 3rd 2011 :

On March 15th 2011, the French supreme court rejected his appeal 10-88750 on the decision of the appeal court of Paris of November 19th 2010 to reject his motion to be released pending investigation. Mr. H complained that his detention at the prison of Fresnes amounted to a violation of article 3 of the Convention due to his poor health and the lack of proper health care.

On April 5th 2011, Mr. H filed an application (21489/11) with the ECHR.

On July 25th 2005, the Court ruled in case Siliadin v. France (73316/01) a violation of article 4 of the Convention. The Court found that the French government failed to its positive obligation to obtain the criminal conviction of a couple B. who kept the applicant, a minor from Togo in domestic slavery for several years.

The applicant was represented by Me Helene Clement (Paris) and counseled by the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM).

At the 976th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on October 17th to 18th 2006, the French delegation announced that the articles 33 to 37 of law 2003-239 of March 18th 2003 were sufficient as a general measures to avoid further violation of article 4 of the Convention. Theses articles brought minor changes to the wording of articles 225-13 to 225-15-1 of the penal code on degrading working and living conditions.

On May 1st 2008, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of the Council of Europe entered into force in France. But the legislative measures adopted by the French government failed to define “forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery and servitude”  and to establish them as criminal offenses in its penal code. Thereby, the French government failed in its article 225-4-1 of the penal code, to establish as criminal offenses the trafficking in human beings (art.18) and the use of services of a victim of trafficking (art.19).

On December 18th 2009, the French NHRI (CNCDH) released its Opinion on combating the trafficking and exploitation of human beings in France highlighting the failings of the French government to  “ensure effective, adequate repression of trafficking and exploitation” and to “guarantee the effective respect of victims’ rights”.

Nevertheless, at the 1078th meeting on March 2nd to 4th 2010,  the deputies of the Committee of Ministers allowed the preparation of a draft final resolution.

In November 2010, the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM) submitted  its observations (see below) on the general measure taken by France to the Department for Execution of Judgments under Rule 9-2. Surprisingly, the observations were not published by the Department in violation of Rule 8-4. The observations showed the failings to obtain criminal conviction in cases of trafficking in human beings.

On January 19th 2011, the case C.N and V. v. France (67724/09) was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions on the measures taken by France to prevent violation of article 4 of the Convention. In this case, the prosecution failed again to obtain the criminal conviction of a couple M. who kept the applicants, two minors from Burundi in domestic slavery for several years.

The Department for Execution of Judgments has not yet made public the agenda of  the 1108th meeting from March 8th to 10th 2011 in violation of Rule 2-1. It is therefore unknown if any monitoring of the general measures taken by France is going to be discussed.

Update (April 30th 2011) :

The Department for Execution of Judgments has recently released the observations of the NGO Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (CCEM) with the “answer” of the French government who pretends not to have access to the prosecution files of 3 slavery cases.

 

In the French authorities’ opinion, these provisions, interpreted by the courts in the light of the Convention and of the present judgment, will make it possible in the future to convict those committing acts similar to those at issue in the present case.

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