a bill tabled to guarantee prison

Caroline Yadan and Mathieu Lefèvre, during the conference “The new clothes of anti-Semitism: conspiracy, Islamism, hatred of Israel”, September 11, 2023, in Paris. Twitter/Caroline Yadan

The bill carried by two Renaissance deputies would notably allow the issuance of an arrest warrant in the event of serious offenses of a racist or anti-Semitic nature.

Tuesday September 12, two deputies from the presidential majority have tabled a bill which could more firmly apply prison sentences against the authors of remarks judged racist Or anti-Semitic.

The project, supported by Caroline Yadan, deputy for the 3rd district of Paris and Mathieu Lefèvre, deputy for the 5th district of Val-de-Marne, would give the courts the possibility of issuing an arrest warrant in the event of serious offenses of a racist or anti-Semitic nature. “In our Republic, all hatred must be fought and all discrimination tracked down», Specified MP Caroline Yadan on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

This proposal is part of a broad government plan against racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, the main axes of which were announced by Élisabeth Borne last January. This focuses, among other things, on cases of offenses relating to press law, that is to say “racist or anti-Semitic convictions“, “challenges to crimes against humanity» and the “apology for crimes against humanity or war crimes», all defined by the law of July 29, 1881.

Filling a “legal gap”

We realized that there was a legal vacuum into which many perpetrators of serious racist and anti-Semitic offenses were falling.», explains Caroline Yadan. “Today, it is enough to be out of reach to escape conviction, because this law of 1881 does not provide for the possibility of imposing serious prison sentences (minimum one year) of an arrest warrant», Continues the MP from Paris.

This is the case of the far-right essayist Alain Soralsentenced on April 15, 2019 by the Paris criminal court to one year in prison, for contesting crimes against humanity. Due to his absence at the trial, the court accompanied its decision with an arrest warrant.

Sentenced to multiple times for similar facts, this decision should have definitively sent Alain Bonnet, his real name, behind bars. However, the prosecution appealed the decision, considering that this arrest warrant had no legal basis. Indeed, under French law, the issuance of an arrest warrant can only be issued if it concerns a common law or military offense. However, Alain Soral was convicted of a press offense, on the basis of article 24 bis of the 1881 law on freedom of the press. He therefore escaped a prison sentence.

Caroline Yadan also points to the cases of the far-right activist Hervé Ryssenfrom the negationist Vincent Reynouardor even the neo-Nazi Boris Le Lay, who acts from Japan.

Make non-public insult a crime

To date, non-public insult of a racist, sexist or phobic nature constitutes a 5th cl infraction which exposes its author to a maximum penalty of 1,500 euros fine. Conversely, the same insult when it is public becomes an offense punishable by one year of imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.

There is a real difference in legal treatment between public insult and non-public insult, even though when we receive messages of an anti-Semitic or racist nature, it remains extremely serious.», underlines Caroline Yadan. Insult is punishable by “simple infraction“, “yet the harm done to the victim is also significant», she adds. This is why, with Mathieu Lefèvre, the MP proposes “to transform non-public insult of a discriminatory nature into an offense, and to provide an aggravating circumstance in the event of non-public racist or anti-Semitic offenses committed by persons holding public authority“.

If this law came into force, the author of the anti-Semitic letter of which the President of the National embly was recently the victim, Yaël Braun Pivetwould incur “a much greater sentence“, despite “the non-public nature of this attack», concludes Caroline Yadan.

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