Feature

France: Swine flu could bring martial law

The government sent secret memos to judges and attorneys general two months ago ordering them to prepare to &ldquo;adapt&rdquo; their practices in case of widespread flu, said Karl Laske in <em>Lib&eacute;ration.</em>&l

Karl LaskeLibération

If a swine flu pandemic occurs, getting sick is just the beginning of our worries, said Karl Laske. The French government has a “secret plan” to “streamline” the justice system so it can function with far fewer healthy players—a plan that would “completely overturn the institutions that are supposed to protect our freedoms.”

The government sent secret memos to judges and attorneys general two months ago ordering them to prepare to “adapt” their practices in case of widespread flu. “Closed courtrooms and prolonged pretrial detention” are just a few of the draconian measures on offer. Only one judge will preside over each trial, “in violation of the French principle of collegiality” that currently requires three judges to confer on criminal cases. Since most French trials have no juries, the new rules would mean that one person single-handedly decides each defendant’s fate.

The Union of Magistrates is so appalled, it leaked the secret memos to this newspaper. Let’s hope that if we publicize it, we can prevent the government’s “stealth takeover” of our independent justice system. We dare not let the flu “destroy our liberty.”

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