The government announced on Wednesday the dissolution of the radical environmental movement, which announced an appeal to the Council of State.
The threat had been hovering for three months. After weeks of discussions, the dissolution of the collective Earth Uprisings (SLT) was finally pronounced this Wednesday in the Council of Ministers. “The use of violence is not legitimate in the rule of law and that is what is sanctioned“said government spokesman Olivier Véran at the end of the weekly meeting.
In the viewfinder of the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmaninthese activists from the ultra-left had mobilized last weekend against the Lyon-Turin rail link in Savoy. A prohibited demonstration during which scuffles had broken out with the police. “Under cover of defending the preservation of the environment», the nebula of ociations incites «the commission of sabotage and material damage, including by violence», justifies the executive in the decree of dissolution. At the end of March, the latter had already been implicated after violent clashes on the sidelines of a rally against a project of “mega-basinsin Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres).
Appeal before the Council of State
“This is no reason to dissolve a movement whose majority of actions are non-violent.“, retorted the patron saint of environmental deputies, Cyrielle Châtelain. Because on the left, many voices are raised to oppose “a political decision“. These activists must notto be repressed like terrorists that they are not“, denounced the rebellious leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Others did not hesitate to remind the executive of its shortcomings. “Regularly condemned for climate inaction, the government would be well advised not to criminalize the commitment of environmental activists“, lambasted Anne Hidalgo, the PS mayor of Paris.
The response is organized to try to save the radical movement, around which some elected officials gravitate. “We’ve always worked together, we’ll always work together“, ured the national secretary of the Greens, Marine Tondelier. The party has also announced that it is joining the appeal filed by the collective before the Council of State.
Islamist, nationalist or anti-fascist groups… Under Emmanuel Macron, 33 ociations and de facto groups have already been dissolved, including a dozen ultimately saved by the administrative judge. But the government had never before attacked an environmental organization. If he procrastinated for three months to make his decision, it was therefore to ensure the legal solidity of his decree.
By nature, any decree of dissolution risks undermining the freedom of ociation, which the Constitutional Council has enshrined as “fundamental principle recognized by the laws of the Republicfrom 1971. The constitutionalization of this freedom thus gives it a value superior to the law (and therefore to a simple decree). “The decrees of dissolution are the subject of a rather fastidious control of the Council of Statewarns Guillaume Drago, professor of public law at Panthéon-as University.
“De facto group”
To p the filter of the control of legality and justify such an infringement of the freedom of ociation, the executive will have to provide before the Council of State with the elements of investigation proving that the Uprisings of the Earth indeed cause “violent acts against persons or property“. It will thus be necessary to comb through the movement’s publications, from its social networks to its leaflets, to find convincing elements establishing a material link between it and the violence committed. “We may think that everything has been weighed, but there is nothing obviouswarns Olivier Renaudie, professor at the Sorbonne Law School. It’s much easier when it’s a militia or a group calling for attacks.»
In this file, “responsibility is much more tenuous“, points out the lawyer. Because the ultra-left nebula does not advocate material degradation and violence in a systemic way. All the demonstrations he organized were not punctuated with overflows as in Sainte-Soline or around the Lyon-Turin railway tunnel, making it more difficult to establish his responsibility.
The movement also plays in its defense. “Under no circumstances does the Earth Uprisings call for violence against people“says one of his lawyers, Aïnoha Pascual. This dissolution could be similar to the case of the “SCABIES“, an anti-fascist group from Lyon, in 2022, estimates Christophe Mondou, teacher at the Faculty of Legal Sciences at the University of Lille. The Council of State had canceled the government’s decision, recalls the law professor, judging that, “even if the group complacently relayed violence, that was not enough to make it a violent ociation“.
The form of the collective, a galaxy of different actors without leaders or legal existence, should not constitute an obstacle, the law making it possible to dissolve the “de facto groups», which are not declared ociations. This could, however, complicate the application of the decision if it were validated by the courts.