Protection or crime of opinion? This Wednesday, February 2, the associations pledged against the triumph of intensive agriculture. The day before, the Paris administrative court had delivered its decision on the Demeter gendarmerie cell. Created in 2019 by the Ministry of the Interior and Agriculture to combat attacks on the agricultural world, it had two missions: to investigate crimes and crimes such as theft, but also to prevent ” actions of an ideological nature “. In other words, degradations or intrusions committed by political activists to protest against modes of production or creation. This last attribution was challenged by the courts yesterday, on the grounds that it would not be based on any legal basis.
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The court gives the government two months to ” stop these activities “, running the risk of paying a fine of 10,000 euros a day. In a joint press release, Interior and Agriculture Ministers Gérald Darmanin and Julien Denormandie take ” act », of the decision and announce that Demeter’s mission will be « clarified and framed in a new internal organizational text “.
After the decision of the administrative court, political figures mobilized against intensive breeding were satisfied. On Twitter, Yannick Jadot, an environmental candidate for the presidential election who has promised to dissolve the cell if elected, evokes ” a win for whistleblowers “, and asks the government to apply ” this decision without delay “.
I had pledged to dissolve the cell #Demeter justice orders. cheer @L214.
This is a win for whistleblowers. #democracy
I am waiting for @governmentFR to implement this decision without delay. https://t.co/7MDc8mGF5Y
—Yannick Jadot (@yjadot) February 1, 2022
At the origin of the judicial appeal that led to the decision of the administrative court, are the environmental and anti-speciesist associations – against the exploitation of animals – Générations Futures, Pollinis and L214. the three denounced bullying “, like this ” serious violations of freedom of expression “, which the court acknowledged in its decision. ” The law already punishes malicious acts “, remember Marianne Brigitte Gothiere, co-founder of L214. For her, the cell is mainly focused on actions of an ideological nature, so today it is emptied of its substance “.
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” Demeter was giving a signal to the public that animal rights activities are potentially criminal. », considers the activist. She evokes gendarmes who ” go to public meetings “, and this ” question association representatives about their activities “.
… And the creators are worried
According to Brigitte Gothière, the only raison d’être of the Demeter cell would be the harassment of anti-species activists even before possible infractions were discovered. A view largely nuanced by farmers. ” Before the creation of Demeter, violence against the creators was drowned in all the complaints received by the gendarmes. “, recalls Émilie Jeannin, cow farmer on the Côte d’Or, spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne and creator of France’s first mobile slaughterhouse. ” I have suffered death threats for years on social media, they call me a Nazi forpractice livestock. These threats have been put aside but since 2019, the gendarmes contact us as soon as a problem arises, I feel protected. »
” The court’s decision is quite shocking because the acts of degradation that we have suffered are the result of these actions of an ideological nature. “, regrets in turn Étienne Fourmont, dairy farmer at Sarthe, who benefits from media visibility with an account on the YouTube video platform followed by more than 90,000 subscribers. On the night of December 31st to January 1st, 2020, their exploitation was thus targeted by anti-speciesists. While celebrating the New Year, activists broke into his house to mark ” Abolition of 2020 “. In one of your neighbors, they damaged farm equipment.” If the gendarmes are no longer authorized to monitor at least these activists, it will be impossible for them to stop these actions. “, complains the farmer.
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” These people are in a very violent ideology, it is normal that they cannot say and do anythingEmilie Jeannin abounds. The gendarmerie must be able to provide information about them to protect us. For her, the court decision is a sign. ” We tell them they can continue their smear campaigns while we have fear in our stomachs when we talk to strangers and talk about our work. “, she says again.