Challenging Darmanin’s Assault: Civitas Dissolution Request

Régis de Castelnau is an atypical character, he is part of an illustrious French family – he is the great-grandson of the very Catholic General de Castelnau -, he was for a long time a member of the Communist Party… Above all, he is a lawyer since 1972, and founded his firm, specializing in social law and social economy.

Founding member of the Syndicat des Avocats de France, he has developed an important activity at the international level. President of the NGO “France Latin America”, he also served as Deputy Secretary General of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, an organization with consultative status with the UN.

Régis de Castelnau is president of the Institut Droit et Gestion Locale, an organization for reflection, research and training dedicated to the relationship between public action and the law.

On his blog Vu du Droit, he commented on August 11 on the announcement of Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to want to dissolve the Catholic movement Civitas. Let it be clear to everyone: Régis de Castelnau is not a friend of Civitas and is not tender with the line of this movement. But the title of his article sets the tone: Darmanin against civil liberties. We take the liberty of publishing it below in its entirety so as not to disguise any of the nuances of his thinking. Enough to feed an essential debate.

The rather ridiculous episode of the procedure for the dissolution of the CIVITAS association initiated by Gérald Darmanin serves once again to reveal the liberticidal passions which animate the false left and in particular Jean-Luc Mélenchon one of its most noisy leaders. In order to get a makeover in the fight against anti-Semitism, this one approves for this time the official guard of the Macron system, responsible for the implementation of the autocratic excesses which become the great characteristic of this system.

Do we understand correctly, as when he says that “the lawyer defends the man, not the crime”, the author of these lines repeats that he does not support any of the 34 organizations dissolved since the arrival of Emmanuel Macron in power. But let him defend principles and note that these measures of dissolution are becoming systematic and constitute so many precedents which install a dangerous practice. And cheering the dissolution of an inept small group bringing together a few lit up for legally approximate reasons, shows once again the validity of Pastor Niemoller’s famous quote. “I was not a member of CIVITAS, so when it was banned, I said nothing”. Mélenchon and his friends do worse, and have obviously forgotten that freedom of expression cannot be divided, and what the communist Rosa Luxembourg said: “freedom of expression is first and foremost that of those who do not think as Me”.

For Darmanin, first destroy freedom of demonstration

Darmanin has made a specialty of banning demonstrations, even though it is a fundamental freedom protected by the Declaration of Human Rights and by the Constitution of the Republic. Demonstration is one of the methods of exercising freedom of expression, which is absolute. And whose possible excesses provided for by law must be assessed a posteriori by the judge. As soon as the event aims to occupy part of the public space, it must be the subject of a prior declaration to inform the administrative authority. If it takes place in a private space, this declaration is not necessary. The administrative authority, in this case the prefecture, if it considers that there is a serious risk of disturbing public order, can take a prohibition measure.

When it comes to challenging a fundamental freedom, the criteria are extremely strict. With the eager support of LR parliamentarians, Emmanuel Macron was able to put in place a whole legislation heavily penalizing “participation in prohibited demonstrations”. During the social movements linked to the adoption of the law on pensions, the Ministry of the Interior multiplied the bans. Given their arbitrary nature, many have been canceled by the administrative courts.

Gérald Darmanin, to circumvent this difficulty, and always concerned about his liberticidal practice of power, has found three tricks. First of all, the issuing of orders prohibiting certain street demonstrations once they had already started! This made it possible to verbalize participants who came in good faith to a legal gathering. It is this kind of practice that the prefect (of sad memory) Lallement loved.

Finally, the Minister of the Interior produced a bewildering circular addressed to his prefects, asking them to systematically ban all demonstrations as soon as they were organized by people qualified as “extreme right”. This implausible decision not only infringes an essential public freedom but constitutes discrimination sanctioned by article 225-1 of the penal code!

Second, freedom of association

Gérald Darmanin, with the approval of the President of the Republic and the hypocritical support of part of Parliament, has therefore seriously damaged the freedom of demonstration. But anxious not to stop on such a good path in this work of undermining our fundamental principles, he decided to attack the freedom of association that the Third Republic had organized with the famous law of 1901. The principle is simple, anyone wishing to create a collective structure with legal personality can do so by simple declaration to the administration. There is no prior authorization. And as with all freedoms, the judge has a posteriori control of any illegal excesses of their use.

In 1936, to fight against the activism of the factious leagues which had distinguished themselves at the time of February 6, 1934, a law had been adopted allowing their justified dissolution. After numerous adaptations, it is now article 121-1 of the Internal Security Code that organizes its use. After having used it against the extreme right with, for example, Génération Identitaire, Islamism with, among others, the CCIF (Collective against Islamophobia in France), communitarianism with the LDNA (Black African Defense League), and more recently the far left of the “Earth Uprisings”, now Darmanin has decided to attack Civitas, a small group of enlightened Catholics. It is no longer a habit: it becomes a mania.

An unjustified dissolution signed Gérald Darmanin

The Civitas association, which recently constituted itself as a political party, is a tiny structure, a gathering of somewhat disturbed people who maintain a relationship with the Catholic faith that even the 18th century had abandoned. This Christian fundamentalism is not new, even if we have reached a form of paroxysm with this group. On the occasion of their summer school, a guest, the essayist Pierre Hillard, made the following comments: “The naturalization of the Jews in September 1791 opens the door to immigration […] If we restore the laws of catholicity and that traditional Catholicism is made a state religion, perhaps the situation before 1789 should be restored”. What constitutes first of all a historical imbecility, with the wish to return to a lost paradise, is it an anti-Semitic expression? Because it must be remembered that anti-Semitism is an opinion and that it is protected by Article 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights, it is its expression which is, under certain conditions, prohibited by the law. To find out, you have to go to the judge who will determine if the speaker has committed an offence. But coincidentally, helping controversy, Darmanin rushed to announce the procedure for the dissolution of Civitas. When he does not claim impunity for the beating police, when he does not infringe the freedom of demonstration, the Minister of the Interior dissolves.

What does article 121-1 of the internal security code tell us about this? There are seven paragraphs that define the activities of associations to justify their dissolution? It is simply the sixth which could be used and which in fact reproduces article 225-1 of the Penal Code on discrimination: “6° Or who either provoke or contribute by their actions to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or a group of people because of their origin, their sex, their sexual orientation, their gender identity or their membership or non-membership, real or supposed, of an ethnic group, nation, so-called race or particular religion, or propagate ideas or theories tending to justify or encourage such discrimination, hatred or violence”.

It is therefore a question of advocating discrimination, hatred or violence against people. And these criminally reprehensible acts must be habitual. And obviously have been considered as such by the one who is the only one empowered to decide, that is to say the judicial judge. The people of Civitas opposed marriage for all, would probably like Catholicism to become the state religion again, advocated the mass in Latin, made tiny demonstrations to protest against this or that blasphemy. But until further notice, they have never been judicially sanctioned.

This new manipulation demonstrates that Gérald Darmanin is a Minister of the Interior dangerous for public freedoms. These are not divided and we must oppose these excesses knowing that this kind of measure is clearly intended to trivialize their use. The real targets are not ridiculous and harmless small groups.

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