“For better protection of French detainees abroad”

6:30 p.m., June 11, 2022

Here is his platform: “About 1,650 French people are currently detained abroad. Some were placed in detention for a short period in a country whose judicial system is more or less respectful of individual freedoms. Others, on the other hand, are prosecuted or sentenced in conditions that completely violate the rules relating to fair trial. Seventeen French nationals are sentenced to death around the world, including 11 in Iraq. The question of the extent of consular protection takes on its full meaning with regard to these nationals whose means of defense are neglected.

When a French person is detained outside the national territory, the French consular authorities are supposed to be informed without delay – but this is not always the case – for the purposes of implementing the so-called consular protection, provided for by the convention. Vienna of 24 April 1963. This protection is quite formal. It obviously does not allow the French authorities – at the risk, otherwise, of judicial interference – to interfere in the local procedure. The convention only authorizes the consular authorities to visit their compatriot, to ensure that he receives the care that his state of health requires and to inform his relatives.

The decree of 4 May 2018 provides, however, that consular protection also concerns the assistance due to nationals of the European Union who are victims of a crime or misdemeanor abroad. The question then arises of the nature of the protection due, in this respect, to French victims of an offense when they have been placed in detention abroad. The hypothesis is not school, with regard to the conditions of detention which prevail in certain countries, and which constitute constitutive of inhuman and degrading treatment and/or arbitrary confinement.

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In such a case, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention can be seized. The opinion delivered by this institution following a contradictory procedure is not binding in the legal sense of the term, but it can exert a certain pressure on the State concerned. A complaint with a civil action can also be filed before the investigating judge in France for acts of torture, violence or arbitrary confinement. French justice retains its jurisdiction based on the nationality of the victim.

Beyond these procedures, political and media pressure can sometimes prove useful. However, to defend French nationals in many countries around the world, I know that these are weapons that must be handled with the greatest discernment.

The time seems to me above all to have come to strengthen the scope of the opinions and decisions given by the supranational institutions created for the purpose of protecting fundamental freedoms, such as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention or the Human Rights Committee of the UN. When a State deliberately violates the most fundamental rights of a detained person, supranational decisions can still come to their rescue. »

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