France: LOPPSI 2: not in our name!

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"Statement by CLEJ which is open for signatures (*) 18 November

The draft "loi d'orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure" (law on guidelines and programming for the performance of internal security, aka "LOPPSI 2") will be examined next week in its second reading by the National Assembly [the lower house of parliament]. The member and partner organisations of the Collectif Liberté Egalité Justice (CLEJ, Collective for Freedom, Equality and Justice), worried by the lack of real debate concerning this text, wish to alert citizens about the excesses that it gives rise to, which imperil our country's democratic balance, and have organised a press conference on Moday 22 November at 14:30 outside the National Assembly.

This draft law takes the form of a heteroclite collection of technical provisions that justify the term, now accepted, of a "legislative container for anything" [fourre-tout législatif, in the original]. The illegibility caused by this assemblage has the effect of ruling out parliamentary and public debate by preventing the different actors from having adequate space to discuss the wide-ranging guidelines that it issues. Now, as CLEJ has summarised it in 24 points after the first reading in the Senate in mid-September, this text reveals a political line that is particularly worrying: databases, surveillance, control, detention! Are the new values that the government wishes to impose upon society those of repression, exclusion, stigmatisation, suspicion?

LOPPSI 2 transmits a bellicose political discourse that uses the figure of the criminal to arouse the ghost of an internal enemy and, correlatively, it likens any criminal act to an attack against the State.

In the name of the protection of the State against its "enemies", measures that derogate common law are about to become the norm, surveillance and social control are extended, and the goal of reinsertion attached to each sentence disappears.
First of all, this umpteenth securitarian hotchpotch envisages a considerable expansion in mechanisms for inclusion in databases and videosurveillance (now called "video-protection"). Not content with renewing the current police and gendarmerie databases (STIC and JUDEX) - which are thus diverted from their initial purposes, full of mistakes, uncontrollable and, in fact, out of control - the UMP majority is now preparing to interconnect and extend them. Data concerning suspects found to be innocent will not be systematically cancelled: it will thus be possible to keep them in those records termed "of precedents" for people who, in fact, do not have any! Likewise, while Anglo-Saxon countries are reviewing the costly dogma of its effectiveness, in France the goal is to increase the spying of public space to the maximum: the authorities will be able to place videosurveillance devices practically everywhere in public spaces; all private businesses will be able to install cameras at the entrances of their establishments; prefects will be able to do the same all along the routes of demonstrations.

It is particularly worrying, at the margins of discussions about this trivialisation of surveillance and inclusion in databases, to hear members of the government stating that only those who have something to reproach themselves have something to fear. Such a discourse, which eliminates the distance between the State's authority and individual conscience, is particularly unhealthy. Conversely, we believe that all of us have something to fear from this extension of social control because, in the future, it will contribute to further reducing our rights and freedoms.

The draft also entails, of course, an imposing repressive dimension. Thus, in the guise of a "response" to the difficulties of certain families, its drafters have thought up a "curfew" for under-13s -which will not fail to give rise to abusive controls-, a new "contract of parental responsibility" -which will reinforce the certain parents' marginalisation-, and a procedure that is similar to that of immediate appearance before the minors' court -which will achieve the alignment of the minors' justice system to the one for adults-, thus preceding the public debate on the reform that is envisaged by the ordinance of 1945 [on crime by minors]. The creation of a crime of "street selling", the over-hardening of punishment for authors of attacks or robberies against the elderly, the introduction of automatic seizures in the field of road traffic, the invention of mandatory sentencing from the first offence a person commits, the extension of the period of 30 years of detention for security purposes to additional crimes or even the extension of the possibility of placing people under electronic surveillance after their sentence is spent, complete this bleak picture of criminal law that has been turned into a means of political communication that imperils our principles, our freedoms and very sense of reality.

The State abandons some missions that are its prerogatives through an increase in the powers of the municipal police; the creation of a police militia named "civilian reserve"; the setting up of a vague "Conseil national des activités privées de sécurité" (National Council on private security activities) that internalises and heralds the growing privatisation of security; the possibility for agents on public transport vehicles to use force to expel travellers.

Finally, this draft entrusts the administrative authority with new powers to undermine personal freedoms without any judicial control: screening of websites, obligatory testing and taking of blood samples, expulsion in 48 hours of people occupying lodgings that do not comply with regulations -s uch as camps, shantytowns, mobile homes, houses that do not have building permits or chosen dwellings (yurts, teepees, cabins…) - and the latter's destruction.

The basic and dangerous ideology that has presided over the preparation of this text is nothing new. LOPSI, the Perben law, the law on internal security, the Perben II law, the law on the "prevention" of crime, the law on repeat offenders, the law on mandatory sentencing, the law on detention for security, the law on repeat criminal offenders, the law on "gangs"... are its (un)worthy ancestors. Every time, the stated objective is that of fighting crime, protecting citizens, creating the conditions for general well-being. The reality is very different: the "sense of insecurity" increases alongside social insecurity, and our democratic principles wither away.

Like the previous ones, this text promises to be ineffective from the point of view of the goals that it claims to pursue, but very effective insofar as its true purposes are concerned: it prepares us for a society of Control, based on a strategy of tension that was particularly clear in the warrior's speech given by the head of state on the past 30 July in Grenoble.

The member and partner organisations of the Collectif Liberté Egalité Justice (CLEJ) warn all citizens about the nature, useless at the same time as it is unacceptable, of this draft law which has not given rise to a genuine public debate and which, nonetheless, will soon be adopted in their name…

Paris, 18 November 2010.

Note: The Laws Commission of the National Assembly, and its zealous president Eric Ciotti, have already hardened some aspects of the law during its session on 29 September (read the comparative chart in the Ciotti report).

For example, the Commission's amendments envisage making the creation of a "Conseil pour les Droits et Devoirs des Familles" (CDDF, Council for the Rights and Duties of Families), provided for in the law of March 2007 on the prevention of crime, obligatory in all the cities that have over 10,000 inhabitants. This CDDF is the key body for the "shared secret" policy, which forces social workers to break the bond of trust with families that are in difficult situations, thus placing the latter under the permanent legal and moral control of their town's mayor.

List of signatory organisations up to 18 November:

Syndicat de la magistrature (SM), Syndicat national de l'ensemble des personnels de l'administration pénitentiaire (SNEPAP/FSU), Syndicat national des personnels de l'éducation et du social - Protection judiciaire de la jeunesse (SNPES-PJJ/FSU), Syndicat des avocats de France (SAF), Syndicat national de l'enseignement supérieur (SNESUP/FSU), Privacy France, Solidaires unitaires démocratiques - santé/sociaux (SUD santé/sociaux), Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA), Union syndicale de la psychiatrie (USP), Syndicat national unitaire des collectivités locales, de l'intérieur et des affaires sociales (SNUClias/FSU), Groupement étudiant national d'enseignement aux personnes incarcérées (GENEPI), Ligue des droits de l'Homme (LDH), Collectif "Non à la politique de la peur", Union syndicale Solidaires, Fondation Copernic, Parti de gauche, Europe Ecologie/Les Verts, Mouvement de la Paix, Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (FASE), Parti communiste français (PCF), Droit au Logement (DAL), Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR), Droit Solidarité, Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP), Gauche Unitaire, La Quadrature du Net, Act-Up Paris, Union nationale des étudiants de France (UNEF)."

[unofficial translation by Statewatch]

The original, in French

Further information:

The draft law: "Projet de loi d'orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure", 27 May 2009. [pdf]

Ciotti report, containing a comparative table of the text at the first reading by the National Assembly, by the Senate, and by the Commission

"Les principales dispositions de la LOPSSI 2", CLEJ, summary of the key provisions in LOPPSI 2 in 24 points

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