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French Prime Minister Gérald Darmanin has recently instructed the prefects (regional state representatives) to ban all pro-Palestinian protests as they are "likely to cause a public disturbance". What is the legality of this?

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    I'd love to know what all the downvotes are about.
    – bdb484
    Oct 13, 2023 at 17:31
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    @bdb484 I almost downvoted due to this being a one-line question sharing no prior research (law.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask) and containing an assertion ("France has recently banned [...]" which is not cited. Citing the source would speed up volunteer answerer's time & allow scrutiny of a source for potential errors. I didn't downvote though, because assuming the assertion to be true, this is a really good legal question, possibly pitting the French government against human rights obligations in the EU & ECHR, not to mention its own constitution.
    – DPenner1
    Oct 13, 2023 at 17:58

3 Answers 3

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In Germany on Friday 13th a lot of pro-Palestinian protests on the same day and Saturday 14th of October 2023 were banned. The ARD did report about the legal situation while various outlets did report reasonings given to the press. The reasons for various cases were, among others:

  • Several of the people organizing official protests did allege allegiance to Hamas or PFLP, which are banned terrorist organizations in Germany. It is illegal to glorify a banned terrorist organization or crimes under §140 StGB, something that would be very much the result of a protest claiming allegiance and agreement with the recent attacks on Israeli citizens.
  • It is very likely people would want to burn flags. This is illegal under §104 StGB.
  • The protests were sought as a result of the open call of Hamas to assault Jewish people on Friday 13th after the Friday prayer. This was connected in radio reports to be part of the reason the demonstrations were banned.
  • In Hamburg, a pro-Israel demonstration on Monday went haywire with at least one serious injury. The shifted situation made such a result for the banned demonstrations nigh certain. This was quoted repeatedly together with the fact that the demonstration was banned.
  • In Berlin, a demonstration was banned for being an "endangerment to public safety and order". This is precedented by a ban of a similar demonstration in April, and a history of bad actors using signs glorifying crimes or repeatedly yelling illegal paroles that fall under "Volksverhetzung" [~hate speech], StGB § 130. This is an established reason to ban a demonstration.
  • One of the organizers had a similar demonstration in Neukölln go very haywire in May 2021, and this was cited in the reasoning to ban a new protest on October 13th in the same area by the organizer. This very organization is currently under investigation if it could be banned as a terrorist organization, but only in the first steps.

It is of note that each and every demonstration was banned individually, and there was no blanket ban, despite the reasoning of many bans being nigh carbon copies of one another.

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  • I presume that at least some of these reasons would apply to pro-Israeli protests as well. In particular because that demo in Hamburg was pro-Israel.
    – PMF
    Oct 13, 2023 at 14:38
  • @PMF the danger to the public can, but it is expected to have less or no violations of sections STGB §130, 140, and 104.
    – Trish
    Oct 13, 2023 at 18:05
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France is a signatory to 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 21 of which says

The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The actual order is not presently available to us, but is said here to include the statement (probably in French) that "Pro-Palestinian demonstrations must be prohibited because they are likely to generate disturbances to the public order". This is the circumstance under which a ban on exercising the right of assembly is allowed under the law. The law does not dictate a specific standard of evidence required for a ban.

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I edited your question to add a source and a bit of context.

I don't have a definitive answer to it. However, here are some hints.

  • The administrative court of Paris stated a few days ago that the Paris police prefect's decision to ban a pro-Palestinian demonstration was legal.
  • However, this kind of statement is by no means systematic. There are many occurrences (this one in 2020 or this one in 2022 for instance) of the same court stating that ban of protests were illegal. Last June, it even suspended the ban on a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
  • These decisions are often taken on a case-by-case basis, and depend in particular on the arguments put forward by the parties. The above-mentioned order argued that "the claimant association has not provided any information on the implementation of an internal security service at the event capable of preventing the risks and dangers identified". Associations applying specific security measures are more likely to be heard.
  • The administrative court of Paris is not the highest court in France, and the Conseil d'État or the European Court of Justice may rule otherwise.
  • This is only my opinion, but: It is likely that the ban on all pro-Palestinian demonstrations is illegal (even during the Covid crisis the Conseil d'État stated that ban of all protests was illegal), but it is likely that a prefect can legally ban any individual demonstration with minimal arguments (given the context), and a group wishing to organize such an event should have a good lawyer...

Edit 2018-10-27

So the Conseil d'État stated that a general ban of pro-palestinian protests was illegal, and that it's up to the prefects to decide by a case-by-case basis.

Since that date a few demonstrations were held without being banned, in Paris or Nantes for instance (can't post a source for this one, not enough reputation).

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  • The reason for banning the protests is relevant, as I explained for the german situation
    – Trish
    Oct 16, 2023 at 1:09

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