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On June 19th 2009, the French prime minister Fillon issued an executive order 2009-724 forbidding citizens to cover their faces in an area where a gathering is taking place. Covering his own face without a “legitimate reason” and if there is risk of “a breach of public order” carries a penalty of a €1,500 fine (art. R645-14 of the penal code).

On April 11th 2011, Act 2010-1192 entered into force. It forbids citizens to cover their faces in any area open to the public unless the covering is legally required, work-related, on health ground, to practice sport or during artistic and “traditional” events. Under this law, covering his own face illegally carries a penalty of a €150 fine.

The prime minister Fillon requested public employees to forbid entrance to all public facilities (train stations, metro stations, airports, courts, prisons, police stations, museums, schools, universities, hospitals, stadiums, libraries, town-halls, polling stations, driving license offices, immigration and asylum offices…) and to refuse service to citizens on the ground that their face is covered (note PRMC1106214C) even though the citizen is offering to show his face for identification purpose. In Paris, two women covering their face were arrested by male plainclothes police officers preventing them to express their opinions to journalists and to demonstrate peacefully (see below video).

On the same day Ms. S.A.S a Muslim woman, filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the criminalization of the covering of her face when she is in areas open to public, is a violation of her right to privacy (art.8), her freedom of religion (art.9), her freedom of expression (art.10) and her freedom to peaceful assembly (art.11). She added that the ban from public facilities, the refusal of service and the risk to be fined were degrading treatments in violation of article 3. She stated that these discriminatory policies were also in violation of article 14 of the Convention.

On February 1st 2012, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Mr. Sanjeev Sharma (Birmingham, UK).

On n/a, Ms. Fernandez was informed by a notice of December 15th 2006 that she was suspected of speeding at n/a on the road n/a in n/a on September 13th 2006 at n/a (art. R413-14 of the road code).

On n/a, she had to deposit €180 to get her non-guilty plea registered by the prosecutor (art.530 of the code of penal procedure).

On January 7th 2008, the applicant appeared in court without being able to get access to the prosecution file of evidence of her case. She was not assisted by a lawyer and wasn’t informed when the judgment will be given (art.462 of the code of penal procedure). On n/a, the judge found her guilty of n/a and condemned her to a fine of €135, to administrative cost of €22. Following the condemnation, she automatically lost 1 point out of her 12 points driving license.

On February 18th 2008, she filed an appeal to the supreme court (Cour de cassation) against the judgement. On May 3rd 2010, she was informed that on September 17th 2008 the supreme court ruled her appeal inadmissible (art.605 of the code of penal procedure) for a violation of article 568 of the code of penal.

On October 29th 2010, she filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the lack of access to the prosecution file of evidence was a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention. She added that the lack of formal notification of the judgment of Montpellier was a violation of article 6-1 and 13, and that the requirement to file in person her appeal to the supreme court, was a violation of article 6,13 and 14 of the Convention. She stated that the prosecutor was not required to file in person his appeal.

On January 17th 2012, the 5th section of the Court ruled her application inadmissible on the surprising ground that because the administrative judge Fernandez was condemned to a fine of €135, “the applicant has not suffered significant disadvantage regarding her right to a fair trial” (art.35-3-b) of the Convention).

On October 6th 2011, the 5th section of the Court ruled in judgment Wagner v. Luxembourg (43490/08) that the allegation of violation of article 6-1 during proceedings following which the applicant lost 4 points out of his 12 points driving license, was admissible (§25).

On March 18th 1997, the Court found in judgment Foucher v. France (22209/93) that the lack of access of the accused to the prosecution file of evidence was a violation of article 6-1 and 6-3 of the Convention. In this case, Mr. Foucher was condemned to a fine of €457 for insults.

On April 24th 2001, Mr. Francois Mourmand is arrested and detained pending the Outreau investigation, on the request of the investigative judge Burgaud. In July 2001, he filed a complain for false allegation. On June 9th 2002, he was found dead in his cell of the jail of Douai. The Outreau investigation resulted in a unprecedented miscarriage of justice. Finally, criminal courts acquitted 13 defendants in 2004 and 2005.

On June 11th 2002, an investigation on the cause of the death was opened by an investigative judge. According to the toxicology tests, his death was caused by psychiatric medications. Medical experts found that psychiatric medications were prescribed in unusually high levels and no medical record was found to justify these levels. On January 9th 2007, the sister of the deceased, Ms. Lydia Mourmand filed a complain for “involuntary manslaughter” to the investigative judge. On March 4th 2011, the chamber of investigation of the appeal court of Douai confirmed the decision of the investigative judge to close the case without charging any suspect.

On January 23rd 2007, Ms. Lydia Mourmand and her father filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the life of Mr. Francois Mourmand in jail was not protected and the investigation on the cause of his death was too slow, both violation of article 2 of the Convention. They added the conditions of his detention and the lack of proper healthcare in jail were a violation of article 3, his detention pending investigation for more than 13 months a violation of article 5, the lack of investigation following his complain a violation of article 6-1, the discrimination for belonging to the traveller community a violation of article 14 and lack of remedy on these violations a violation of article 13. On November 9th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic.

On August 30th 2011, the 5th section of the Court strike out the application on the ground that the French Republic offered a settlement of €20,000 to the applicants who accepted it. The French Republic didn’t recognize any violation of the Convention. On November 3rd 2011, the applicant deplored to have sign the settlement because she is “semi-illiterate“.

On January 18th 2006, the applicant was interviewed  by congressmen during the congressional inquiry into the Outreau investigation.

In 2000, it was revealed by a whistle-blower that disabled women were unlawfully (art.16-3 of the civil code) sterilized by force from 1995 to 1998 in the city of Sens. On September 11th 2000, an advocacy group ADHY (Association de Défense des Handicapés de l’Yonne) pressed criminal charges by filing a complain to an investigative judge of the tribunal of Sens for “aggravated mutilation” (art.222-10 of the penal code) and “obstruction of justice” (art.434-1 of the penal code). On October 18th 2000, the prosecutor of the Republic also filed a complain to the investigative judge.

On October 20th 2000, the investigative judge refused to allow the complain of the ADHY. On July 2th 2001, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris confirmed the decision. On October 9th 2002 the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected the appeal of the ADHY (case 01-88831). Some disabled citizens who were sterilized by force joined the proceedings.

On April 3rd 2006, the investigative judge Mickaël Ghir closed the criminal investigation with no charge brought against the suspects. On March 12th 2007, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris confirmed the decision on the ground that “it is extremely difficult for disabled citizens to parent“.  On June 10th 2008, the supreme court found the appeal of the plaintiffs inadmissible (case 07-86623) on the ground that a  joint-appeal was not made by the prosecutor (art.575 of the code of penal procedure).

On December 10th 2008, 5 disabled women filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the lack of legal assistance provided to them during the investigation and the inadmissibility of their appeal to the supreme court were both a violation of article 6-1. They added that their forced sterilizations were a violation of articles 3, 8, 12 in conjunction with article 14. On February 22th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Me Didier Seban (Paris).

On August 16th 2011, the European group of national Human Rights institutions submitted to the Court a brief amicus curiae .

In France in 2011 (5th republic), demonstrations are still regulated by the executive order of October 23rd 1935 of the president of council Pierre Laval (3rd republic), who was executed for “treason” on October 15th 1945 by a firing squad in the notorious prison of Fresnes.

Articles 1 and 2 of the the executive order require organizers of a demonstration to notify the prefect or the mayor of the reason, date, location and itinerary of the demonstration, 3 to 15 days before it should take place. “Traditional” demonstrations are exempted from the requirement. Article 3 of the the executive order allows head of local police, prefect and mayor to “forbid” the demonstration if it may disrupt “public order“. The executive order doesn’t define a demonstration or the minimum number of people required for a demonstration.

Participating in a “forbidden” or a “non notified” demonstration is not an offense under the French penal code. But a prefect, a mayor or any police officer can decide to disperse any demonstration that he thinks may disrupt “public order” (art. 431-3 of the penal code). Once the legal warnings have been made to the demonstrators by bullhorn or by firing a “red rocket” (art. R431-1 of the penal code), it is an offense to continue participating in that demonstration. It carries a penalty of 1 year in jail and a fine of €15,000 (art.431-4 of the penal code).

On January 26th 2011, a demonstration was organized to protest against a meeting at the Automobile Club of Paris in the 8th district of Paris. No dispersion order was taken. On the opposite, 70 peaceful demonstrators were kettled by military riot police (gendarmerie mobile). They were then arrested, searched, detained in a police bus and transported to a police station in the 11th district of Paris before being released without charge. According to the police department of Paris, the peaceful demonstrators were arrested to “verify their identity.” But this arrest is only authorized under art.78-3 of the code of penal procedure if the citizen refuses to disclose his identity upon request. According to witnesses and videos of the events, the demonstrators were not even requested for their identity before being arrested. Once arrested, they were not advised of their rights to a phone call and to have the prosecutor informed of their detention. Upon release, they didn’t receive the mandatory police report stating the reasons of their detention. (art.78-3 of the code of penal procedure).

On May 10th 2011, a gathering was organized in the Luxembourg gardens in the 5th district of Paris to celebrate the executive order of April 27th 1848 (2nd republic) making slavery illegal in French colonies. No dispersion order was taken. But 8 peaceful citizens were kettled by plainclothes police officers. Then they were arrested, searched, detained in a police bus and transported to a police station before being released without charge. Once again, the citizens were not requested for their identity before being arrested and upon release they also didn’t receive the mandatory police report stating the reasons of their detention. On May 26th 2011, a demonstration was organized in place de la Rotonde in the 10th district of Paris to protest against the G-8 meeting in Deauville. No dispersion order was taken. But the peaceful demonstrators were kettled by riot police (CRS) and plainclothes police officers. 95 peaceful demonstrators were then arrested, searched, detained in a police bus (video 2, video 3, video 4) and transported to the police stations of 5th, 11th and 18th district before being released without charge. They were also not advised of their rights and didn’t received the mandatory police report.

On June 19th 2011, a demonstration of “indignés” was organized in front of Notre Dame in the 4th district. No dispersion order was taken. But the peaceful demonstrators were kettled by riot police (CRS), military riot police (gendarmerie mobile) and plainclothes police officers. They were then arrested, searched, detained and transported to police stations before being released without charge (video 1, video 2).

On July 8th 2011, 5 citizens were waiting on the sidewalk of the embassy of Russia in the 16th district. They wanted to submit a 14,000 signatures petition urging Russia to execute ECHR judgment Alekseyev v. Russia (4916/07; 25924/08; 14599/09) by allowing gay-pride demonstration to take place safely in Moscow. No dispersion order was taken. But the 5 citizens including the Russian applicant Mr. Alekseyev were all arrested, detained and transported to the police station of the 4th district. Mr. Alekseyev was released only 8 hours later. On July 9th 2011, peaceful demonstrators supporting Palestine were kettled and arrested (video 2) in the 4th district.

On September 14th 2011, the French minister of interior threatened to use violence if any regular peaceful gathering of Muslims for Friday prayers will take place after September 16th 2011. On September 16th 2011, the police department of Paris expressed its “satisfaction” that Muslims renounced to gather for Friday prayers in the 18th district of Paris. On September 17th 2011, Xavier Dor organized a gathering to “pray” against the opening of an abortion clinic at the hospital Tenon in 10th district. The organizer an extreme right activist, was already condemned to fines and jail for behaviors toward abortion patients, doctors and nurse interfering with patient’s abortion (art. L2223-2 of the health code). Even though the gathering was in front of the hospital, no dispersion order was taken and no demonstrators were arrested. On September 19th 2011, peaceful demonstrators “indignés” were kettled, assaulted by pepper spray, arrested and searched in the 6th district by police officers (video 2,video 3). On September 21st 2011, peaceful demonstrators “indignés” showing their passports and identity cards were kettled, arrested, assaulted, searched, detained in police bus and transported to police stations (video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4). On September 23rd 2011, 11 citizens “indignés” were on the sidewalk, just released from the cells of the “dépôt” (jail) of the tribunal of Paris in the 1st district. A plainclothes police officer asked them illegally to disperse their gathering (see video below).

These examples shows that the police department of Paris have an administrative practice in 2011 to unlawfully detain some peaceful demonstrators to interfere with their exercise of their freedom of peaceful assembly. The unlawful detention by a police officer, is an offense carrying a maximum penalty of 7 years in jail and a 100,000 euros fine (art. 432-4 of the penal code). These interference are not prescribed by law and seems to target peaceful demonstrators on the ground of their opinion, sexual orientation and religion. In the newsletter PPrama of the police department of Paris (no181), an official acknowledged that the demonstrators “indignés” are trying to gather peacefully. But he stated that police officers have to “very reactive to strangle at birth this kind of inclination“.

Therefore the unlawful detention of peaceful demonstrators on discriminatory grounds to interfere with their freedom of peaceful assembly is a violation of articles 5-1 and 11 of the Convention in conjunction with article 14.

From November 28th 1995 to January 18th 1999, the tax department audited the accounts of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) in France. On February 8th 1996, the minister responsible of the tax department, Mr Alain Lamassoure, publicly supported at the national assembly, the harassment of minority religion by tax (the tax department, whose actions on several occasions resulted in a certain repression of the activity of sects) .

On May 14th 1998, the department decided to tax at the rate of 60% the donations from believers of JW for years 1993 to 1996, refusing to tax-exempt them. The department applied also a penalty rate of 80% which resulted that the donations to JW were taxed at rate of..108% and fixed the annual interest at 9% on late payments.

On July 4th 2000, the tribunal of Nanterre rejected the applicant’s claim. On February 2002 the appeal court of Versailles confirmed the ruling. On October 5th 2004, the supreme court rejected the appeal of the applicant (03-15709) on the ground that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were not recognized and authorized by the government as a religion.

On February 24th 2005, the applicant lodged its case (see below) to the Court arguing that the tax rate of 108% on donations to JW was a discrimination in violation of articles 9 and 11 of the Convention with article 14. He added that the tax rate in itself was a violation of article 1 P1 and that the use of a tax to harass a minority religion a violation of articles 18 and 1 P1. The applicant submitted also allegation of violations of articles 6-1 and 13.

On June 17th 2008, the Court found inadmissible all the allegations of violations of the Convention except the one of articles 9 and 14. On September 21st 2010, the Court found admissible the allegation of violation of article 9.

On June 30th 2011, the Court found a violation of article 9 of the Convention on the ground that the tax rate of 108% applied to the donations to the applicant was not foreseeable and therefore not “according to law”. The Court will rule on damages at a later date. The applicant was represented by Me Philippe Goni (Paris).

According to Me Philippe Goni (comments), this is the first time that the Court found that the French Republic violated article 9. He added that this raises serious questions about the “passiveness of the national courts” . He requested that the tax department annulled the whole demand of tax and penalties (more than €50 millions) and reimbursed the amount already seized.

On January 1st 1963, the Muslims in Algeria lost automatically their French citizenship (art.2 of executive order 1962-825) including the hundreds of thousands Muslims veterans of the French army. At the same date, the French administration set the pensions of the Muslim veterans, newly citizens of Algeria (art.71-I of law 1959-1454) at the rate of July 3rd 1962, date of independence of Algeria.

Despite the administrative supreme court ruling of April 6th 1979 (case Z. 03519), the French government legalized the discriminatory pension based on “citizenship” by article 26 of the law 1981-734.

Following the administrative supreme court ruling of November 30th 2001 (case D. 212179) which found a violation of articles 1P1 and 14 of the Convention, the French government introduced a new discriminatory pension based on “residence at the time of the first allowance of pension” by article 68 of the law 2002-1576.

Ms. Achour is a widow of a Muslim veteran of the French army (17 years of service). On November 16th 1985, she was denied a military pension following the death of her husband on the basis of her “citizenship“. On December 22nd 2003, she obtained a pension lower than the regular one received by the widows of “French” veterans. On June 16th 2006, the administration denied her the right to receive the regular pension. She challenged the decision at the administrative tribunal of Poitiers who rejected her complain on December 27th 2007. She was denied legal aid at the administrative tribunal of Poitiers and at the administrative supreme court level on the ground that her claim was frivolous. On April 22th 2009, the applicant lodged her case to the Court arguing that the lower pension based on citizenship was a violation of articles 1P1 and 14 of the Convention.

Ms. Ben Ahmed is also a widow of a Muslim veteran of the French army (15 years of service). On May 25th 2005, the administration refused to compensate her for the lower pension that her husband received and that she received following his death. On September 20th 2007, the administrative tribunal of Nantes rejected her complain. Her appeal was transferred illegally by the administrative appeal court of Nantes to the administrative supreme court. The administrative supreme court denied her legal aid and on October 21st 2008 rejected her appeal. On January 9th 2009, the applicant lodged her case to the Court arguing that the lower pension based on citizenship was a violation of articles 1P1 and 14 of the Convention. She added that the proceeding in the administrative justice system were in violation of articles 6 and 13 of the Convention (see below).

Mr. Chikr is a Muslim veteran of the French army (15 years of service). In 2006, he was receiving a monthly pension of €70 (15 times lower than the regular one) and annual allowance of €40. On April 24th and June 16th 2006. the administration refused to grant him a regular pension. He was denied legal aid at the administrative tribunals of Dijon and Poitiers and his claims were rejected by the administrative tribunals. On July 31st 2008, the administrative supreme court denied him legal aid. On November 7th 2008, the applicant lodged his case to the Court arguing that the lower pension based on citizenship was a violation of articles 1P1 and 14 of the Convention.

Ms. Kouri is a widow of a Muslim veteran of the French army (15 years of service). In 2003, she was receiving a monthly military pension of €12,22. On February 25th 2005, the administrative tribunal of Poitiers found that she was only eligible for a limited revision of her pension with effect from January 1st 1999. She was asking for revision of her pension and her husband one from September 1st 1962. On December 20th 2006, the administrative supreme court rejected her appeal. On July 18th 2007, the applicant lodged his case to the Court arguing that the lower pension based on citizenship was a violation of articles 1P1 and 14 of the Convention.

On March 2nd 2010, case Achour (22276/09). case Ben Ahmed (4301/09), case Chikr (55073/08) and case Kouri v. France (31721/07) were communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.  Ms. Achour, Mr. Chikr and Ms.Kouri were represented by Me Vincent Schneegans (Marseille). Ms. Ben Ahmed was represented by Me Andre Thalamas (Toulouse).

On May 28th 2010, the agency constitutional council found unconstitutional (decision 2010-1) the laws (1981-734, 2002-1576 and 2006-1666) regarding the lower pensions for veterans of the French army.

From January 1st 2011, any veteran with a lower pension can request the benefit of a regular pension under the article 211 of the law 2010-1657.

On March 23rd 2011, A committee of 3 judges of the Court decided to strike out the 4 cases after receiving promise from the French government that Ms. Achour will receive €25,000, Ms. Ben Ahmed €65,000, Mr. Chikr €95,000 and Ms. Kouri €70,000. But the French government didn’t acknowledge any violation of the Convention. The committee considered no public interest in pursuing the examination of the 4 cases.

In Algeria, 47,500 Muslims veterans and 11,000 widows of Muslims veterans might disagree with the view of the committee of the Court composed of judges Mark Villiger (Liechtenstein), Isabelle Berro-Lefevre (Monaco) and Ann Power (Ireland).

On November 29th 2009, 57.5% of the 2,709,287 votes were in favor of the popular initiative to forbid the building of minaret in Switzerland. As a result, article 72 of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland was modified.

Mr. Hafid Ouardiri is a Muslim living in Switzerland who is working as the director of the “Inter-Knowing Foundation“.

On December 15th 2009, the applicant lodged his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that to forbid to build a minaret was a violation of articles 9 and 14 of the Convention. He added that the lack of effective remedy was a violation of article 13. On May 11th 2010, the application was communicated to the agent of the Swiss government.

On September 15th 2010, the Swiss government replied and on November 9th 2010 the applicant submitted his observations. Most of the debate is on the two first questions on the quality of victim (art.34) and if all domestic remedies have been exhausted  (art.35-1). The Swiss government is even refusing to examine the allegations of violations of articles 9 and 14 of the Convention (.34) and requested the Court to do the same. N.G.O European Center for Law and Justice submitted briefs amicus curiae to the Court as well as N.G.O Open Society Justice Initiative.

The applicant is represented by Me Georges-Albert Dal (Brussels), Me Bertrand Favreau (Bordeaux), Me Pascal Maurer (Geneve), Me Christophe Pettiti (Paris) and Me Pierre de Preux (Geneve).

Update :

On June 28th 2011, the Court found the application inadmissible on the ground that the applicant didn’t apply for a permit to build a minaret and therefore couldn’t be considered as a victim under article 34 of the Convention.

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 June 24th 1996, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled the case Ramirez Sanchez v. France (28780/95) was inadmissible (see previous post), based on the “fact” that  the abduction was carried out by the Sudanese authority so the Commission was incompetent ratione personae. The Commission also added that the rendition to France by French domestic intelligence agency (DST), was part of a “cooperation” between the French government and the state of Sudan which didn’t amount to a violation of article 5.

On January 10th 2006, the daily newspaper Le Figaro published an interview of an ex-agent of the French domestic intelligence agency on the abduction and rendition of Mr. Ramirez Sanchez. On June 28th 2006, the applicant pressed charges for “abduction” and “sequestration” to the investigating judges of Paris court. On May 3rd 2007, an investigation judge closed the case without opening an investigation. On September 24th 2007, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris confirmed the refusal to open an investigation. On 2008, it was revealed that a CIA agent was also involved in the planning of the abduction and rendition of the applicant.

On September 2th 2008, the appeal (case 07-88266) of the applicant to the supreme court (Cour de cassation) was rejected.

On February 25th 2009, the applicant filed his case (13019/09) with the European Court. On July 8th 2009, he submitted  a brief [fr] arguing a violation of articles 5, 6-1, 13, 17 in conjunction with article 14. The applicant argued that his abduction was carried out by French agents of DST with the help of a local politician with no executive mandate. He added that his abduction and rendition to France were also planned by the CIA and were not the result of a judicial cooperation between States.

On September 28th 2010, case El-Masri (39630/09) was communicated to Macedonia by the 5th section of the Court with detailed questions to be answered within 16 weeks (art.3,5,8,10,13). The case regards the abduction of a German citizen and his rendition to Afghanistan by CIA agents.

Surprisingly, on December 16th 2010, Judge Karel Jungwiert (Czech Republic) of the 5th section of the Court deemed the case Ramirez Sanchez (13019/09) inadmissible. The registrar of the Court informed the applicant that no ground for the decision will be given and  that they will destroy all files regarding the case in 1 year (see below). The applicant was represented by Me Coutant-Peyre (Paris).

On January 12th 2010, the ECHR ruled in judgment Gillan and Quiton v. United Kingdom, that the “stop and search” of the 2 applicants, were not “in accordance with the law” because the power to stop and search under section 44 of the terrorist act 2000, was not subject to a requirement of “reasonable suspicions” (§86) and to adequate legal safeguards (§87). Therefore the Court found a violation of article 8 of the Convention and didn’t examine the allegation of violation of article 5.

The article 78-2 of the French code of penal of procedure, allows “stop” with no requirement of “reasonable suspicions”, to protect “public order” or on a road, highway near a land border, in airports,  in train stations or in an area defined by an order of the local prosecutor of the Republic. Frisks and “volontary” searches are not allowed by law but widely practiced. The “stop and search” is not officially recorded if the citizen is not brought to the police station. It makes it extremely difficult for an individual to challenge a “stop and search” in an action for damages (art.5-5 and art. 13).

Furthermore, searches of vehicles on the road or in parking lots are allowed under article 78-2-2 of the code of penal procedure with no requirement of “reasonable suspicions” in an area defined by an order of the local prosecutor of the Republic. Police officers can even detain any individual stopped for up to 4 hours under article 78-3 for further verification if the individual can’t or refuse to prove his identity. The detainee is not informed of the legal basis of the “stop” (art.5-2) but can request in case of further verification, the notification of the prosecutor of the Republic and upon release a custody record. Under French law, there is no proceedings by which the lawfulness of this detention could be decided by a court (art.5-4).

In June 2009, the NGO Open Justice Initiative released his report “Profiling Minorities: A Study of Stop-and-Search Practices in Paris, with findings of discriminatory  “stop and search” based on ethnic profiling and made recommendations to the French authorities. No amendment were made to the law.

On June 22th 2010 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in cases Melki (C-188/10) and Abdeli (C-189/10) that a section of article 78-2 was in violation of the Schengen Borders Code (EC) 562/2006 due to the lack of requirement of “behaviour and of specific circumstances giving rise to a risk of breach of public order”. No amendment were made to the law.

In conclusion, the French “stop and search” law raises serious concern of compliance with articles 5-1, 5-2,  5-4, 5-5, 8 and 13 of the Convention. The practice of discriminatory “stop and search” could add a violation of article 14 of the Convention to the previous violations.

On May 4th and 14th 1971, the applicants sold a part of their land of the island of Porquerolles to the French Republic at a highly discounted price. The deed of sale contained a clause authorizing the applicants to extend buildings or build new ones on their remaining land.  At that time, Ms. Le Ber wished to build balneotherapy facilities for disabled.

But on 1976 and on 1978, the applicants were denied any permit to build. They filed their cases with the administrative tribunal. After losing their cases in 1981 and 1983, they appealed to the  administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat) but their appeals failed in 1984 and 1989 (53591), on the ground that they had to obtain damages from the judicial court.

In 1994 and 1995, the applicants filed their cases to the tribunal of Toulon. After losing their cases in 1999 and 2000, they appealed to the court of Aix-en-Provence but their appeal failed in 2005. They both appealed to the supreme court (cour de cassation). Their appeals failed on December 30th 2006 (05-18538) almost 30 years after the start of their litigation before French courts.

On April 24th 2007 and June 5th 2007, the applicants filed two applications (see below) with the E.C.H.R arguing that the refusal of building permit was a violation of article 1 of protocol no 1 of the Convention. On June 12th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered before 16 weeks. Ms. Le Ber is represented by Me  Laurent Coutelier (Toulon). The family Richet is represented by Me Pierre Brelier (Paris).

On December 17th 2009, the agent of the French Republic submitted her brief . On January 15th 2010, a brief was submitted in response by the lawyers of Ms. Le Ber.

On November 18th 2010, the Court found  a violation of article 1 of the protocol no 1 of the Convention. The court ordered France to pay 803,000 of damages to Ms. Le Ber and 712,000 of damages to the family Richet. No legal fees reimbursement were awarded.

French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic. The coutry has its own president, ministers, national assembly, flag, currency, phone area code and is home to many local languages (Tahitian, Marquisian, Paumotu, Mangarevian) widely spoken by the population and authorized to be used in legal contract and business transaction (art. 57 law 2004-192). French is the language of the French Republic (art. 2 of the Constitution) and the official language of French Polynesia (art. 57 law 2004-192).

On May 13th 2005 a resolution 2005/559 was passed by the national assembly allowing any of his members to use French or any Polynesian languages in their speech. On March 29th 2006, the administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat) ruled that the resolution was canceled.

On September 28th 2006, the applicant filed an application with the E.C.H.R arguing that the forbidden use of Tahitian in the national assembly was a violation of articles 10,11 and 14 of the Convention.

On September 21th 2010, the Court ruled the application inadmissible ratione materiae. The applicant was represented by Me Philippe Temauiarii Neuffer.

On November 14th 2007, Mrs Rivet a citizen of Cameroon, wife of a French citizen, obtained from the prefecture of Charente a family reunification permit for her two children Rene and Leopoldine living in Cameroon. Leopoldine is suffering from chronic neurological problems. On November 27th 2007, the immigration agency transmitted the permit to the consulate of France in Doula.

On January 23rd 2008, the applicant applied for immigration visas for her two children. On June 6th 2008, the consulate rejected her application. On July 2nd 2008, the decision was notified to the applicant.

On July 15th 2008, the applicant appealed the decision to the appeal agency for visa denial (“commission de recours contre les refus de visa“) which rejected her appeal without notification. On August 25th 2008, she sought an emergency order and appealed the decision of the appeal agency to the administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat). On September 23rd 2008, her emergency order application (case 320022) was rejected on allegation of fraud.

On December 16th 2008, she did a DNA paternity test with her 2 children. The result stated that she was the mother with an accuracy of 99.99%.

On April 9th 2009, the applicant filed their application with the E.C.H.R (see below)  arguing that the denial of visas was a discrimination based on national origin, together violations of articles 8 and 14 of the Convention, that the length of the proceedings at conseil d’etat was a violation of article 6-1, and that the emergency order application was not an effective remedy in violation of article 13.

The appeal of the decision of the appeal agency was rejected by the administrative supreme court (conseil d’etat) on April 9th 2009 without a public hearing. The decision didn’t even mention the DNA paternity test.

On September 13th 2010, the N.G.O GISTI submitted a amicus curiae brief to the Court.

On July 12th 2010, the case was communicated to the agent of the French Republic, along with questions to be answered before  November 3rd 2010. The applicant is represented by Me Jean-Eric Malabre.

In 2006, only 486 appeals of visa denial were made to the conseil d’etat (report of the French Senate). For the same year, around 300,000 visa denial decisions were officially taken. In 2010, N.G.O Cimade published a report on visa denial decisions.

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