Reports

  • Notre-Dame-des-Landes evictions leave collective experiment in ruins

    Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Monday April 9th. © JL Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Monday April 9th. © JL

    A massive police operation to evict environmental activists occupying farmland in north-west France which was until recently earmarked for the construction of an airport began in the early hours of Monday, marked by violent clashes which left several people injured, and is set to continue through the week. The heavy-handed expulsion of occupants of a number of experimental alternative farming projects on the land at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, during which police used stun grenades and tear gas, was accompanied by the destruction of numerous homes and agricultural installations, including an emblematic collective farm on the site which had hoped to gain official approval for its long-term future.  Christophe Gueugneau and Jade Lindgaard report from Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

  • Tax-evading former French budget minister's appeal trial wraps up

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    Jérôme Cahuzac (centre) arriving in court on February 12th. © Reuters Jérôme Cahuzac (centre) arriving in court on February 12th. © Reuters

    At the end of two weeks of hearings, a Paris court on Thursday deferred until May its verdict on the appeal by disgraced former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac against a three-year prison sentence handed to him in 2016 for tax fraud and money laundering. Cahuzac, 65, who Mediapart revealed in 2012 held a secret tax-haven bank account while leading a crackdown on tax fraud, did not contest his conviction, but sought a reduced sentence which would allow him to escape prison. While his lawyers argued that Cahuzac was a “broken” and “finished” man who risked taking his own life if sent behind bars, the prosecution has reiterated its demand for a three-year sentence. Mediapart legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court to follow the proceedings.   

  • The deadly roads into Calais

    By Elisa Perrigueur
    A sketch of a ferry terminal at Calais. © Elisa Perrigueur A sketch of a ferry terminal at Calais. © Elisa Perrigueur

    Since 1999, an estimated 170 migrants desperately seeking a clandestine passage across the Channel to Britain have died in road accidents in and around the port of Calais in northern France, 37 of them since 2015. One former police officer said the situation became so grim “it was humanly impossible to pick up more bodies from the road”. One of the most recent victims was a 22-year-old Eritrean whose mutilated body was found on a motorway last month after he was run over by a truck whose driver fled the scene. Elisa Perrigueur reports from Calais, where she met with Biniam's relatives as they prepared the return of his body home to north-east Africa.

  • Apple turns red over tax protests at its French stores

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    In an extraordinary move, American tech giant Apple this week applied before a Paris court for a three-year ban to be imposed on alter-globalisation group ATTAC from continuing with its recent demonstrations at the company’s stores in France in a campaign to denounce its tax-dodging practices. Mediapart economics and business correspondent Martine Orange was in court to follow the hearing which, she reports here, has above all served to further tarnish the iPhone maker's image.

  • How Calais migrant crisis has worsened since Macron's visit

    By Elisa Perrigueur
    Migrants living rough in Calais, February 2nd, 2018. © Elisa Perrigueur Migrants living rough in Calais, February 2nd, 2018. © Elisa Perrigueur

    A recent battle between groups of migrants in Calais left 21 people injured, including five with gunshot wounds. Four were left in a critical condition. Local voluntary groups on the ground say that the situation in the Channel port town has got worse in recent weeks, notably after a visit by President Emmanuel Macron and because of a policy of not allowing any new migrant camps to spring up. Elisa Perrigueur reports from Calais.

  • Tunisia's fragile democracy shaken by revolt of the young

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    Demonstrators in Tunis earlier this month demanding an end to new austerity measures. © L. B. Demonstrators in Tunis earlier this month demanding an end to new austerity measures. © L. B.

    Austerity measures imposed in Tunisia at the start of the year in a new public finance law, and which follow a multi-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund, sparked demonstrations across the country earlier this month that were marked by violence. The protests were mostly mounted by the younger population, particularly affected by rising living costs and unemployment. The unrest has rocked the government, whose authoritarian reaction has prompted some observers to draw parallels with the events that led to the downfall in 2011 of Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Lilia Blaise reports from the capital Tunis.

  • The mismanaged forests invading rural France

    By Aurore Staiger
    The village of Saint-Éloy-la-Glacière. © Nell van den Bosch The village of Saint-Éloy-la-Glacière. © Nell van den Bosch

    With the steady desertification of many areas of rural France has come a parallel invasion of forests reclaiming abandoned land. A combination of unsustainable and mismanaged forests, many hurriedly planted to provide timber for the post-war reconstruction, and the division of private forestland into myriads of tiny plots has resulted in disfigured landscapes and villages overrun by fir and spruce trees. The problem is nowhere more acute than in the Puy-de-Dôme département in central France, from where Aurore Staiger reports on the efforts of local officials to claim back the landscapes of the past and to reorganise woodland within a diverse and sustainable environment.

  • Eyes turn to the young in New Caledonia self-rule vote

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    Pro-independence militant Darewa Dianou: “They killed my father and, afterwards, they come and tell us that they will de-colonise us?" © ES Pro-independence militant Darewa Dianou: “They killed my father and, afterwards, they come and tell us that they will de-colonise us?" © ES

    The French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, which became a French colony in 1853, will hold a referendum next year on the proposition of self-rule. The referendum is the result of 30 years of a political process to ease tensions between pro-independence militants from the indigenous Kanak population, which make up about 45% of the archipelago’s 270,000 inhabitants, and ethnic Europeans. A key issue of the referendum will be the extent of involvement of the young generation, and in particular young Kanaks who are the worst affected by high unemployment and educational failure. Ellen Salvi reports from New Caledonia.

  • Angry French firefighters raise the alarm

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    The charred remains of a forest close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, after wildfires in late July 2017. © Reuters The charred remains of a forest close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, after wildfires in late July 2017. © Reuters

    Huge forest fires in the north of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica this weekend destroyed more than 2,000 hectares (about 5,000 acres) of vegetation, as blazes continue to unfold in southern France amid exceptionally dry conditions. In late July, an estimated 7,500 hectares of countryside were devastated by wildfires, mostly in the Provence region, stretching the fire services to their limit. While President Emmanuel Macron and his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, have heaped praise on the efficiency and courage of France’s firefighters, many of the latter are angry that the country’s fire services are depleted by budget cuts, with insufficient and ageing equipment and a shortfall in their numbers. Elsa Sabado travelled to the Var département, the worst hit by the wildfires, to hear their complaints.

  • Palavas-les-Flots, a French seaside resort heading under water

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    Palavas-les-Flots is a popular seaside resort in the Languedoc region of southern France, one of several built up during a government-driven programme launched in the 1960s to develop tourism along western Mediterranean seaboard. But the town, like others in the region, now faces future disaster from the slow but certain rise in the level of the sea and coastal erosion exacerbated by mass tourism. Mediapart environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports from Palavas-les-Flots.