Paris Administrative Court decided that the police’s refusal to allow Falun Gong practitioners’ rally in front of the Chinese Embassy during Xi Jinping’s visit, was “a serious and obviously illegal breach to freedom of demonstration and expression.”
Judge Madame Doumergue ordered the State to pay 1,500 Euros to the Association of Falun Gong France (Falun Dafa France).
In March this year, the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came for a visit to France, Falun Dafa France planned a peaceful demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy on March 27 to call for an end to the persecution in China. The association applied for a permit accordingly, but in the morning of March 26, the Association received a refusal from the Prefect of Police in Paris, and was offered alternative rally locations several hundred meters away from the Chinese Embassy.
In the verdict, the judge acknowledged that the practitioners’ choice of location, the Chinese Embassy, for its symbolic value, “falls within the exercise of freedom of expression.”
Furthermore, it contended that “forbidding a rally, which is linked to the practice of a basic freedom, can only be legally delivered in case of proven risk of breach of public order.”
“The applicant association is entitled to support,” rules the verdict, given that “the Prefect of Police does not ascertain nor claim the risks of disturbing public order, nor the impossibility of planning an adequate police presence to prevent these risks.”
Below more quotes from the English translation of the verdict that was delivered to Falun Dafa France Association, Minister of the Interior and Prefect of Police in Paris.
Falun Gong Association arguments:
– there exists an urgency, since the sole object and interest of the demonstration are met only if the demonstration takes place during the official visit of the President of the Republic of China to France; in fact, the purpose [of the demonstration] is a symbolic action to make the highest official of the Chinese state aware of the Chinese State to the ongoing persecution in China suffered by Falun Gong since 1999; finally, these demonstrations, which goal is to alert the Chinese authorities to the persecutions perpetrated [in China] and to the necessity to put an end to them as well as to inform and sensitize public opinion regarding these issues have an interest only if the demonstration is performed in front of the Chinese Embassy;
– the rejection that denied the organization of such a demonstration scheduled at the declared time and date undermines a fundamental freedom that is, the fundamental right of demonstration and expression;
– this infringement on the fundamental right to demonstrate is serious and obviously illegal; and that is, in effect, a serious infringement, because the scheduled demonstrations are only of value if organized in front of the Chinese Embassy, so as to draw attention of the Chinese authorities on the Falun Gong situation in China and of the ongoing relentless repression of its followers in China; that the place thus chosen to demonstrate pertains to the fundamental right of freedom of expression; that the other sites proposed by the administrative offices of the Paris Police Department hinder the purpose itself of the demonstration and does not permit the legitimate right to express collectively one’s ideas and opinions;
In the past, these demonstrations have never caused any trouble to the public order.
The Prefect of Police’s brief
The Prefect of police argued that if the condition of urgency is satisfied in this kind of cases and if public expression of ideas and demands are among fundamental liberties, the claim must then be rejected on the grounds that the contested order does not pose a severe violation to this freedom; that in fact, if it decides to ban all demonstrations at the corner of George V Avenue and Tremoille Street as well as on all of those two routes, it is because of the risk of public unrest at that precise spot situated within the perimeters of reinforced security measures for the visit of the President of the Chinese Republic to France from March 25th to March 28th, 2014; that the President of the Chinese Republic would be in the immediate proximity of said sites, and his protection is a factor of the utmost importance that the authority owning the police power should consider by the name of maintaining the public order; furthermore, other places were offered to the claimants; that finally, the police forces are especially mobilized for the visit of the President of the Chinese Republic; that the notification of the Order sent to the claimant association indicated all legal and factual considerations ;
On the conclusion presented under Article L.521-2 of the Code of Administrative Justice:
1. Given that Article L.521-2 of the Code of Administrative Justice: “In a case of urgency the interim relief judge may, if so requested, make any order necessary to protect a fundamental freedom which could be the subject of a serious and obviously illegal invasion by a Legal person governed by public law, or an organization governed by private law in charge of managing a public service, in the exercise of its powers.
The interim relief judge will hand down a decision within 48 hours.” And that under Article L.522-1 of the same code: “The interim relief judge rules following written or oral proceedings in which both the charges and the defense are heard. When asked to decide on matters covered by Articles L.521-1 et L.521-2, to amend or terminate them, he shall immediately notify all parties of the date and time of the public hearing (…)”;
2. Given that freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration referred to by the Falun Gong Association are among the fundamental freedoms listed in provisions of Article L.521-2 of the Code of Administrative Justice;
3. Given that it is established that the Falun Gong Association had declared its intention of organizing a static demonstration on a public street on March 7th, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM in front of the Chinese Embassy on the corner of Georges V avenue and Trémoille street in Paris, in order to “peacefully appeal to the highest Chinese leader to bring to justice the Jiang Zemin clan” and during which flyers will be handed out, speeches given and music played via microphones, Sonos wireless HiFi and loud-speakers; that the Police Headquarters refused by a ordinance on March 25th, with notice given the next day to the Association of Falun Gong France, the right to protest at the intended date and time on the corner of Georges V avenue and Trémoille street in Paris and on both streets; the condition as a matter of urgency, which was not contested, is therefore met;
4. Given that forbidding a rally, which is linked to the practice of a basic freedom, can only be legally delivered in case of proven risk of breach of public order;
Given the circumstances of the case, the State, the losing party to the proceedings, must be ordered to pay to the Association of Falun Gong France (Falun Dafa France) a sum of 1,500 euros under L. 761-1 of the Code of Administrative Justice;
Article 1: Suspends the execution of the ordinance, whereby the Prefect of Police denied the demonstration of the Association of Falun Gong France (Falun Dafa France) on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 from 10:30AM to 12:30PM at the corner of Georges V avenue and Trémoille street in Paris.
Article 2: The Prefect of Police is enjoined to let the Association of Falun Gong France protest on the sidewalk on the corner of Georges V avenue and Trémoille street in Paris in front of the Chinese Embassy from 10:30AM to 12:30PM.
Article 3: The state will pay a sum of one thousand five hundred (1,500) euros under Article L. 761-1 of the Code of Administrative Justice.
Article 4: Dismisses the remainder of the claims in the application as unfounded.
See the Verdict in French here.