Pension reform: the justice orders the prefect to publish the bans on demonstrations before their entry into force

The Paris police headquarters will no longer be able to issue orders prohibiting certain gatherings in complete discretion and at the last moment

Pension reform: the justice orders the prefect to publish the bans on demonstrations before their entry into force

The Paris police headquarters will no longer be able to issue orders prohibiting certain gatherings in complete discretion and at the last moment. Seized in particular by the Association for the Defense of Constitutional Liberties (Adélico) and the League of Human Rights (LDH), the judge in chambers of the Paris administrative court ordered, Tuesday, April 4, the prefect of police to publish them before their entry into force and on the prefecture's website, so that they can be challenged and, if necessary, suspended by the courts in the event of an infringement of freedoms, as permitted by law.

In the midst of popular protest against the pension reform, the Paris prefecture has had recourse almost daily since March 21 to decrees prohibiting undeclared demonstrations (authorized otherwise) in many sectors of the capital, in order to avoid, according to she, the nocturnal outbursts. Offenders risk a fixed fine of 135 euros for participating in a prohibited demonstration. Between March 17 and 27, 500 verbalizations were drawn up to this effect, according to the prefecture.

The LDH, the Syndicat des avocats de France (SAF) and the Syndicat de la magistrature (SM) had been accusing the Paris prefect of police for more than a week of publishing these orders "on the sly" so that demonstrators would stay at home by fear of being fined. While no one is supposed to be ignorant of the law, information about the ban on demonstrations was not easily accessible, if not accessible at all.

Orders published after the time of the rallies

Orders were very often taken at the last moment, sometimes published after the effective time of the ban provided for in the document, and not systematically posted online. The SAF had thus demonstrated that the ban on certain sectors to demonstrators on Friday March 24 had been posted on the Paris Prefecture website more than half an hour after the start of the ban. Same on March 27. On other days, the arrests were published on the Paris Police Prefecture website, separate from the previous one. As for the decree of March 25, prohibiting night demonstrations, it had only been posted on the doors of the Paris police headquarters. To find out, the demonstrators should therefore have gone to rue de Lutèce, in the 4th arrondissement.

On Tuesday, the judge in chambers noted that this late publication and the lack of adequate publicity imposed by article L. 221-2 of the code of relations between the public and the administration constituted "an obstacle to the exercise of the summary freedom " and "carried a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of the right to exercise an effective remedy": these procedures did not leave sufficient time for the litigant to be able to challenge these orders urgently before the administrative court, particularly given their limited duration.

"This decision clarifies things"

"It is very unfortunate that it took an interim order to get there, comments Paul Cassia, professor of law at the University of Paris-I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, co-author of the request before the court, joined by Le Monde . But this decision clarifies things: no prefecture will be able to ban gatherings at the last moment. »

In their request, the Adélico and the LDH also demanded the publication by the police headquarters on Twitter of the sectors where demonstrations were prohibited, as well as a display on the Parisian public roads concerned. These requests were not imposed by the judge in chambers.

As a general rule, the law does not prohibit participating in an undeclared demonstration. But these decrees made it possible to circumvent this rule of law. The Paris police chief, Laurent Nunez, justified these decisions in view of the violence and arrests that have taken place since March 16, after the use of article 49.3 to have the pension reform adopted. Invoking "gatherings presenting risks of serious disturbances to public order", he assured that the "perimeter in which restrictions are implemented" aimed to "guarantee the safety of persons and property, that of sensitive sites and institutions and symbolic".

The legal battle launched by several of the organizations defending the rights of demonstrators seems to be bearing fruit. Saturday evening, the Paris administrative court seized in summary proceedings had suspended the decree of the prefect of police, published the day before, prohibiting gatherings in several sectors of the capital from Saturday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at 3 a.m. The judge considered that this decree "commits a manifestly illegal attack on the freedom to demonstrate" with prohibition measures appearing "neither necessary nor proportionate to the preservation of public order".