July 25, 2021

“Under pressure from the far right, the idea that the rule of law is a straitjacket rather than protection is progressing”

“When the limits are crossed, there is no more limit”. The projection lent to the comedian Pierre Dac is worryingly topical. The limits are those of the rule of law, these principles conquered over the centuries and gathered in our Constitution. These rules allow us to peacefully settle our disputes and adjust the fragile balance between freedoms and security.

When Guillaume Peltier, number two in the Republicans, proposes to recreate an exceptional jurisdiction, for “Place in security detention” radicalized individuals “On the basis of proven suspicions” and “without possible appeal”, it makes pass by loss and profit the fundamental principles of our law which are the adversarial debate, the presumption of innocence and the right to appeal. When the police, during the rally in front of the National Assembly, proclaim that “The problem of the police is justice”, they pretend to forget that the control of the police by an independent judge is the prerogative of the rule of law, while a police without a safeguard and magistrates under orders characterize a totalitarian state.

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For a long time, the notion of “rule of law” has been used to designate what “us” distinguishes us from authoritarian countries. Thus, the benefit of the billions of the European Union’s post-Covid recovery plan will be conditioned on “respect for the rule of law”, to the chagrin of Hungary and Poland. Because the European Union is “Founded” sure “The values ​​of the rule of law”, by virtue of its founding treaty. The history of the continent should have taught us the value of principles such as protection against arbitrariness, the separation of powers or the principle of legality, in other words the submission of the administration to laws which must themselves respect the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Retroactive penalties

However, under pressure from the far right, the idea is growing that the rule of law is not a protection, but a straitjacket. François Bersani, from the Unité-SGP Police union, wants “The dikes, that is to say the constraints of the Constitution, of the law, give way”. As for the polemicist Eric Zemmour, he affirms that we do not protect the French because of “What is pompously called the rule of law”. A rule of law which protects the freedom of expression of this recidivist of incitement to hatred.

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