French interior minister says ‘no justification’ to suspend police over death of deliveryman

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Cédric Chouviat pinned to the ground by police officers in Paris on January 3rd 2020. © Document Mediapart Cédric Chouviat pinned to the ground by police officers in Paris on January 3rd 2020. © Document Mediapart

On the morning of January 3rd 2020, a 42-year-old deliveryman, Cédric Chouviat, was flagged down for a roadside check by police close to the Eiffel Tower in central Paris. After a brief altercation, he was arrested and pinned to the ground by police using a stranglehold, causing him to suffocate and suffer a fatal cardiac arrest, despite his pleas for them to let go. Although there is compelling evidence of the excessive, brutal manhandling of Chouviat by the officers implicated in the events, three of whom have been formally placed under investigation, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin recently wrote to Chouviat’s family dismissing their call for the officers to be suspended from duty while awaiting the outcome of an ongoing judicial probe. Pascale Pascariello reports.

The mothers and children sent back to France from jihad

By Céline Martelet
A woman and her children in the Al-Hawl refugee camp in north-east Syria, close to the border with Turkey, in May 2021. © Photo Delil Souleiman / AFP A woman and her children in the Al-Hawl refugee camp in north-east Syria, close to the border with Turkey, in May 2021. © Photo Delil Souleiman / AFP

At the end of July, two French women and their children were returned to France by Turkey after spending years in Syria among the ranks of the so-called Islamic State group. After their arrival, they were placed under investigation and put into preventive detention. Under a cooperation agreement between Paris and Ankara, more are due to arrive this month and will face the same procedure. Céline Martelet reports on the path of the women former jihadists, and the fate of their children.

Why the lights have gone out over Lebanon

Beirut residents without power to air conditioning units escape to their balconies. © Houssam Shbaro / Anadolu Agency via AFP Beirut residents without power to air conditioning units escape to their balconies. © Houssam Shbaro / Anadolu Agency via AFP

August 4th marks the anniversary of the devastating explosion last year in the port of Beirut of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate unsafely stored in a warehouse, causing the deaths of more than 200 people and injuring more than 6,500 others. The blast accentuated an already severe economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, and has left it politically rudderless ever since. Amid high unemployment, soaring poverty and shortages of basic commodities, the population is now also struggling from constant power cuts, the result of withering institutional corruption which has all but paralysed its electricity network. Nada Maucourant Atallah reports from Beirut.

The extraordinary tales of wartime resistance on the French Caribbean island of Martinique

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Domestic violence: when cruelty to animals can sound the alarm

By Audrey Guiller and Nolwenn Weiler
A September 2019 protest in Toulouse, S-W France, to draw attentiion to femicides which were estimated that year to total up to 149. © Alain Pitton/NuPhoto AFP A September 2019 protest in Toulouse, S-W France, to draw attentiion to femicides which were estimated that year to total up to 149. © Alain Pitton/NuPhoto AFP

Evidence suggests that men who are violent towards their wives and children are often also involved in cruel and violent behaviour to pets within the home. While the link has become a key lead in some countries for investigating domestic violence, it is still largely ignored in France despite representing an opportunity for the early identification and protection of victims. Audrey Guiller and Nolwenn Weiler report.

Dock dues tax: the colonial hangover that still costs French overseas citizens dear

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When goods enter the ports of French overseas départements - here, Fort-de-France in Martinique - they are subject to the 'octroi de mer' or dock dues. © JS When goods enter the ports of French overseas départements - here, Fort-de-France in Martinique - they are subject to the 'octroi de mer' or dock dues. © JS

One of the recurring complaints of consumers living in France's overseas regions is how high the cost of living is compared with Metropolitan France. At the heart of this criticism is the 'octroi de mer' or dock dues, a tax paid on the import of goods to these territories. This tax has been in place since 1670 and the start of the French colonial system. And the European Union has just agreed to continue it to at least 2027. Julien Sartre reports on the history and impact of a tax that is a throwback to colonial days and which still leaves a burden on often poor French consumers living in overseas départements.

Abdellatif Hammouchi: Morocco's spy chief at the heart of the Pegasus affair

Abdellatif Hammouchi during a visit to the COP22 international conference on the climate at Marrakesh, November 8th 2016. © Photo Illustration Mediapart avec Fadel Senna / AFP Abdellatif Hammouchi during a visit to the COP22 international conference on the climate at Marrakesh, November 8th 2016. © Photo Illustration Mediapart avec Fadel Senna / AFP

The Pegasus scandal has helped throw a spotlight on the repressive regime in Morocco, which is accused of using the Israeli-made spyware to target the phones of thousands of people, including politicians and journalists in France. In particular it has focused attention on the North African kingdom's top cop and spy chief Abdellatif Hammouchi and his role in the affair. As Mediapart reports, this key figure in the Moroccan state apparatus is feared in many Western capitals, including Paris.

France's compromising and cosy relationship with Morocco's repressive regime

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Moroccan king Mohammed VI with French president François Hollande, Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and labour minister Myriam El Khomri on a train to Tangiers, September 20th 2015. © Photo Alain Jocard / AFP Moroccan king Mohammed VI with French president François Hollande, Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and labour minister Myriam El Khomri on a train to Tangiers, September 20th 2015. © Photo Alain Jocard / AFP

The Pegasus spyware revelations show how Morocco has targeted at least 10,000 mobile phones in recent years. These include the phones of several dozen French citizens, including journalists, the president of the Republic Emmanuel Macron and government ministers and senior opposition figures. Yet for the last thirty years the political, media and cultural elites here in France have closed their eyes to the repressive behaviour of the North African monarchy. Lénaïg Bredoux and Iyes Ramdani report.

What the Pegasus spyware tells us about Morocco: a dictatorship in all but name

The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI,  during the opening of the  Agdal railway station at Rabat, on November 17th 2018. © Photo Fadel Senna / AFP The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, during the opening of the Agdal railway station at Rabat, on November 17th 2018. © Photo Fadel Senna / AFP

The revelations about the use made by certain countries of the Pegasus spyware against journalists around the world have focused attention on Morocco's close surveillance of the media. As Mediapart – itself a victim of Moroccan spying - here reveals, the North African kingdom's clampdown targets not just independent journalists and publications but human rights activists too. The regime has also cynically made use of the #MeToo movement and the subsequent heightened global awareness about sexual and sexist violence to discredit those who criticise and oppose it by manipulating or fabricating evidence of a sexual nature.

How Morocco spied on Mediapart journalists using Pegasus spyware

 © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

Mediapart has started legal action after revelations that two of our journalists had their phone hacked with the Pegasus spyware by the Moroccan secret services. The software, made by Israeli firm NSO Group, was sold to government clients around the world and was supposedly to be used only to “fight serious crime and terrorism”. But a date leak and investigations by various media around the world show that some countries drew up lists of telephone numbers that could be targeted with the spyware – and these lists include many journalists. Among them are Mediapart's co-founder and publishing editor Edwy Plenel and reporter Lénaïg Bredoux.  Analysis has shown their phones were infected with the spyware by Moroccan agents in 2019 and 2020. Mediapart has filed a formal complaint with the state prosecutor in Paris, which has now opened a criminal investigation. Meanwhile it has also emerged that French president Emmanuel Macron's phone was targeted with the spyware by Morocco in 2019. 

French police accused of 'doctoring' statements that led to wrongful convictions face legal probe

Police officers gather in front of the police HQ in Lille on October 11th 2016 in support of their colleagues attacked at Viry-Châtillon near Paris. © Philippe HUGUEN / AFP Police officers gather in front of the police HQ in Lille on October 11th 2016 in support of their colleagues attacked at Viry-Châtillon near Paris. © Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

Prosecution authorities in France have opened an investigation into police officers who are suspected of having truncated the statements of a key witness and some suspects in relation to a petrol bomb attack on a police patrol car at Viry-Châtillon in the southern suburbs of Paris in 2016. Largely as a result of this doctored evidence some innocent youths were jailed in 2019 and were only released on appeal in April this year. The launch of this new investigation follows formal complaints by five lawyers representing some of those accused, as previously revealed by Mediapart. Pascale Pascariello and Antton Rouget report.

The lingering scandal of the 'independence debt' Haiti was forced to pay France

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The centre of Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, in November 2019. © FB / Mediapart The centre of Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, in November 2019. © FB / Mediapart

Haiti has been in the news recently after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by foreign mercenaries in early July 2021. Away from the headlines, however, there remains an unresolved issue between France and its former Caribbean slave colony. For more than a century, from 1825 to the 1950s, Haiti paid France a colossal sum in exchange for recognising its freedom and independence. As Mediapart's co-founder François Bonnet reports, some prominent figures are asking whether the French authorities should now pay this money back.

French justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti faces judicial probe over conflict of interest

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Éric Dupond-Moretti, left, and his friend and fellow lawyer Thierry Herzog at Saint-Étienne in south-west France in December 2011. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP Éric Dupond-Moretti, left, and his friend and fellow lawyer Thierry Herzog at Saint-Étienne in south-west France in December 2011. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

For the first time in the history of the French republic, a serving minister of justice has been placed under formal investigation by examining magistrates. On Friday July 16th Éric Dupond-Moretti was told he faces a judicial probe by the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) – which handles allegations relating to a minister's official functions - over claims of an unlawful conflict of interest between his position as justice minister under President Emmanuel Macron and his previous role as a high-profile lawyer. In particular Dupond-Moretti is suspected of using his ministerial post to settle scores with prosecutors and a judge with whom he clashed when working as a lawyer. Lawyers acting for Dupond-Moretti, who denies any wrongdoing, say he intends to stay in his position despite the judicial investigation. Fabrice Arfi reports.

A 'failure in public health policy': fallout from French move to mandatory Covid vaccines

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A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Édouard-Herriot hospital in Lyon, in east France, February 6th 2021. © Photo by Olivier Chassignole / AFP A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Édouard-Herriot hospital in Lyon, in east France, February 6th 2021. © Photo by Olivier Chassignole / AFP

On Monday July 12th President Emmanuel Macron announced that all healthcare workers in France will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15th. He also hinted that if the Delta variant of the disease takes hold and not enough of the public get a jab then this obligation could be extended to the whole population. The announcement has had a mixed reaction among some healthcare staff. The president's words have also sparked a wider debate about the ethics of mandatory vaccination and highlighted some glaring weaknesses in French public health policy since the start of the Covid epidemic. Rémi Yang, Mathilde Goanec, Jérôme Hourdeaux and Donatien Huet report.

Macron trumpets own record as he announces mandatory vaccines for health staff and Covid 'passports'

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President Emmanuel Macron's televised address on July 12th 2021. © Sébastien Calvet/Mediapart President Emmanuel Macron's televised address on July 12th 2021. © Sébastien Calvet/Mediapart

The French president addressed the nation on the evening of Monday July 12th to announce that all health workers will have to get a Covid vaccination between now and September 15th. In addition, Emmanuel Macron said that citizens will soon require a Covid pass or 'passport' for many social activities; for cinemas from July 21st and for bars and restaurants from the start of August, as well as for train journeys and longer coach trips. At the same time the president took the opportunity to praise his own track record as head of state before and during the Covid crisis and to set out some potentially controversial reforms just months ahead of next April's presidential election. Ellen Salvi reports on the president's latest televised address.