Paris, 2nd of March 2022 – On Tuesday, March 1, 25 associations filed a claim before the Conseil d’État against the decree implementing the “separatism” law and approving the republican commitment contract for associations. Faced with a text that notably threatens the ability of associations to act in courts in environmental or corruption cases, the applicants are calling for a final push in favor of freedom of association and expression.
Signing of the republican commitment contract, annexed to the decree of December 31, 2021, is now a condition for associations to be granted public aid and administrative approvals. These administrative approvals are necessary for associations to bring environmental or corruption cases to courts.
If they breach the contract, associations risk losing the public funds they received as well as their administrative approvals. As the wording of the contract is imprecise, associations are exposed to arbitrary decisions by the administration, under the pretense of fighting separatism.
In particular, the contract provides that associations “must not undertake or incite any action manifestly contrary to the law”, while civil disobedience constitutes a historic and powerful means of expression and demonstration in associative sector. These essential actions are now subject to particularly dissuasive legal risks due to the contract of republican commitment.
This decree is even more worrying that it is part of a context of mistrust and repression towards associations. This is evidenced by the difficulties already encountered by several of them in obtaining the administrative approvals necessary for litigation on corruption issues.
Such attacks on freedom of association, expression, and assembly, although enshrined in international texts, are disproportionate and disconnected from the stated aim of the law on Separatism. Strong criticism has been made in this regard, by the French national human rights institution, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (CNCDH), which recommended the outright abandonment of this contract. The Constitutional Council unfortunately remained deaf to these recommendations.
Despite the climate and social emergency, civic space is being put to the test and the role of associations, whether in the streets or in the courts, is thus seriously threatened.
For these reasons, our associations are referring the decree to the Conseil d’État. Our hope is a surge of conscience to guarantee freedom of association, expression and assembly. It is important to fully recognize these fundamental rights and the role of associations, which enable citizens to engage in matters of general interest.
Press release from:
Sherpa , France Nature Environnement, Greenpeace France, Humanité et Biodiversité, Les Amis de la Terre France, LPO, Transparency Internationale France, Notre Affaire A Tous, Zero Waste France.