French state in the dock over crumbling justice system

 © Reuters © Reuters

The French justice system is cracking apart from the effects of a dire shortage of personnel and resources, with one of the smallest budgets, in comparison to national GDP, in Europe. Magistrates complain they are crushed by their workload, unable to fulfil their tasks. The chronic logjam of cases has often tragic humain consequences, as Michaël Hajdenberg discovered when he asked six magistrates from different jurisdictions across France to give their own accounts of the problems they face.

How Europe has allowed terrorists child's-play access to a devastating arsenal

By , and

The terrorist attacks in Paris last year were back in the headlines this weekend after the arrest in Belgium of Salah Abdeslam, wanted for his part in the November 13th shooting and bombing massacres in the French capital. Those attacks, like the shootings carried out at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Paris kosher store in January 2015 demonstrate the ease with which terrorists can acquire reactivated weapons, notably from Eastern Europe. In partnership with eight other European media organisations grouped in a collective project, European Investigative Collaborations, Mediapart exposes here how the European Union has turned a blind eye to the trafficking of improperly deactivated military weapons, as illustrated by the history of one such weapon used to murderous effect in Paris. Fabrice Arfi, Karl Laske and Matthieu Suc report.

The deadly path of the January 2015 Paris terror attacks weapons

The European Union's inability to establish strict, continent-wide regulations concerning the sales of deactivated military weapons, but which allows the widespread sale of assault rifles that can be easily reactivated, played a very clear role in the arming of Islamist terrorists who carried out the waves of terrorist attacks in Paris in January and November 2015. Mediapart, in conjunction with the European media network, European Investigative Collaborations, presents an interactive map showing the trail of the arms used by the terrorists in the Paris attacks of January 2015.

Hollande's key post-terror attacks reform hits the rocks

By and

The French Senate voted on Thursday in favour of inscribing into the constitution the stripping of French nationality from dual-nationals convicted of terrorist crimes. The text adopted by the Senate is fundamentally different to that adopted last month in the National Assembly, the lower house, which allows for the stripping of French nationality of anyone convicted of terrorism, effectively allowing for individuals to become stateless. As Christophe Gueugneau and Ellen Salvi report, the conflict now appears likely to definitively bury what was one of President François Hollande’s two key and highly controversial constitutional reforms in reaction to the November 13th terrorist massacres in Paris.  

No happy end in sight for French authors

A graph indicating the rise and fall of authors' average income. © Mediapart A graph indicating the rise and fall of authors' average income. © Mediapart

The yearly Paris book fair opens its doors to the public on Thursday afternoon, a popular event that was last year marked by an unprecedented demonstration by hundreds of authors protesting at their generally poor and diminishing incomes. Nicolas Chevassus-au-Louis reports on a profession which, with the multiplication of titles published and the advent of digital publishing, sees anything but a happy end ahead, and reveals data which shows that, women authors earn on average significantly less than their male counterparts.

Calais and Grande-Synthe, a tale of two radically different migrant camps

Iraqi Kurds arriving at the Grande-Synthe camp. © Reuters Iraqi Kurds arriving at the Grande-Synthe camp. © Reuters

In its latest attempt to reduce the enduring migrant crisis in the Channel port of Calais, where thousands of people live in insalubrious conditions while hoping to find a passage to Britain, the authrities have built an austere residential camp made out of converted shipping containers. Just several kilometres along the coast, near Dunkirk, where a similar crisis is developing, the Doctors Without Borders NGO has built, in cooperation with the local mayor, an unofficial camp of wooden huts that could not be more different, where it says the aim was to make migrants “feel at home”. But the concept is clearly not shared by the government. Carine Fouteau reports.

French audit watchdog warns EDF of Hinkley Point danger


French utility giant EDF is facing mounting pressure to abandon its project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in south-west Britain. Days after the resignation on March 7th of the state-owned group’s finance director over the financial risks involved, it was the turn of France’s national court of auditors to sound the alarm amid a damning report on EDF’s international operations. Martine Orange reports.

French presidential hopeful Juppé borrows Hollande's tactics to fell Sarkozy

Alain Juppé. © Reuters Alain Juppé. © Reuters

This week the knives were sharpening in the battle between rivals to become the 2017 presidential election candidate for the French conservative opposition party Les Républicains, with latest contenders bringing the total to ten. Defying earlier predictions, the current clear favourite, ahead of primaries to be held in the autumn, is Alain Juppé, the 70-year-old former prime minister whose principal rival is his party's leader, Nicolas Sarkozy. Mediapart political correspondent Ellen Salvi examines the striking resemblance of Juppé’s successful campaign to that of French President François Hollande in his bid to wrestle power from Sarkozy four years ago.

Geneva launches legal battle to shut French nuclear plant


The Swiss canton, or state, of Geneva has launched legal action aimed at forcing the closure of the ageing, accident-prone French nuclear plant at Bugey, which lies just 70 kilometres from the border with Switzerland. The lawsuit is for “the deliberate endangering of lives” and “water pollution”. If successful, this extraordinary move could encourage other countries bordering France and its network of 58 nuclear reactors to take similar action. Agathe Duparc reports from Geneva where the local authorities presented their case at a press conference on Monday.

Why President Hollande fears France's students

What French governments fear: when students take to the streets. © Reuters What French governments fear: when students take to the streets. © Reuters

A total of 20 student and youth organisations have called for protests on Wednesday, March 9th against the government's proposed reforms of employment law. Though the formal presentation of the bill has now been postponed pending further discussions with trade unions, ministers still fear the spectre of widespread social mobilisation, of the kind seen ten years ago that sank plans for new workplace contracts. In particular, President François Hollande is afraid the final months of his presidency would be doomed if students take to the streets in large numbers. Lénaïg Bredoux and Faïza Zerouala report on the unpredictability of France's student protests.

The glitzy, murky world of man accused of vast French carbon trading fraud

From left to right : Arnaud Mimran with Benjamin Netanyahou, Patrick Bruel, Puff Daddy and Meyer Habib. © Mediapart From left to right : Arnaud Mimran with Benjamin Netanyahou, Patrick Bruel, Puff Daddy and Meyer Habib. © Mediapart

He has been on good terms with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, played poker regularly with well-known French singer and actor Patrick Bruel and is close friends with a champion French boxer. But French businessman Arnaud Mimran is now accused of being one of the organisers of the 'hold-up of the century' - a carbon trading scam that in total cost French taxpayers 1.6 billion euros. He is also suspected of having organised the kidnapping of a wealthy Swiss financier, while his name has been cited in connection with several unsolved murders. Fabrice Arfi reports.

French labour law reform: anatomy of a political fiasco

Facing the storm: employment minister Myriam El Khomri and prime minister Manuel Valls. © Reuters Facing the storm: employment minister Myriam El Khomri and prime minister Manuel Valls. © Reuters

On Monday February 29th the prime minister Manuel Valls announced that the government was postponing for two weeks the formal presentation of a new bill reforming employment law. This concession came after days of vociferous opposition to the bill from trade unions, students and many members of France's ruling Socialist Party itself who see the measure as an attack on workers' rights. Mediapart's Lénaïg Bredoux, Rachida El Azzouzi, Mathilde Goanec and Mathieu Magnaudeix analyse how what was intended to be a flagship government reform went so badly wrong.

French state justifies 'racial profiling' in police searches


The French state is currently appealing to the highest court in the country after five identity checks carried out by police were judged discriminatory because they were based on people's appearance. Mediapart has now seen the legal arguments made by state lawyers who argue that in some circumstances it can be justifiable for police to target black and North Africans for such searches. Thus despite domestic and international jurisprudence, writes Michaël Hajdenberg, the French state appears to be condoning the practice of racial profiling.

France's other green protest: against Center Parcs

The home of protesters who are trying to stop a Center Parcs holiday centre from being built. The home of protesters who are trying to stop a Center Parcs holiday centre from being built.

The protesters who have occupied the proposed site for a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in west France have grabbed media attention in recent years. Less well-known are the environmental activists who have set up a similar camp in an ancient forest on the other side of the country in a bid to stop the development of a new Center Parcs holiday centre. As Jade Lindgaard reports, unlike their anti-airport counterparts, the protesters opposing the Center Parcs project are from being universally popular with locals.

French ministers 'obstructed' Ivory Coast bombing probe

By Antton Rouget
Facing trial? Ex-ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters Facing trial? Ex-ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie, Dominique de Villepin and Michel Barnier. © Reuters

In November 2004 nine French soldiers and an American humanitarian worker were killed at Bouaké in the Ivory Coast in a bombing raid carried out by that country's air force. Yet more than eleven years later the foreign mercenaries who are thought to have conducted the raid have never been brought to account. Now a French investigating judge has recommended that three senior French ministers who served under President Jacques Chirac at the time - Dominique de Villepin, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Michel Barnier – stand trial for hindering the initial investigation. Antton Rouget reports.