how to protect the mayors without clearing them?

In view of deconfinement, should the legal protection of mayors or entrepreneurs be strengthened? For several days now, this question has sparked a lively debate among parliamentarians, in the Senate and in the National Assembly.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest news in France and worldwide

In the evening of Thursday, May 7, the deputies removed a provision voted three days earlier by the senators, aiming to better protect the public and private decision-makers who, from May 11, will have to take measures of deconfinement in the schools or businesses. “ Be careful not to establish criminal irresponsibility for these decision-makers “Replied the majority in the House, saying, like the government, that the current rules of law, in particular stemming from the Fauchon law of 2000, remain sufficiently protective.

Maintain the current “balance” of the law on the responsibility of mayors

Act 1 of the debate was played out last weekend. In the Sunday newspaper, 138 deputies and 19 senators from La République en Marche (LREM) announce that they will propose a better ” juridic protection “ mayors, concerned by the reopening of schools from May 11. The aim is to vote for new provisions in the text aimed at prolonging the state of health emergency.

→ ANALYSIS. François Baroin for a law that secures mayors

But as of Monday, it’s the cold shower for the majority parliamentarians. Prime Minister deems it necessary to keep ” the balance “ current law on the responsibility of mayors. ” VShis question deserves to be treated with caution, because our fellow citizens want mayors to act without blocking, but neither do they want decision-makers, public or private, to be relieved of their responsibilities “, says Édouard Philippe.

Invoking the concerns of local elected officials, the senators still voted a device aimed at adjusting the regime of responsibility of decision-makers. The text specifies that “No one can have criminal responsibility engaged” for contaminations by the coronavirus during the state of health emergency, except in case of deliberate intention, recklessness or negligence. An amendment finally deleted, Thursday, May 7 in the evening by the deputies, who simply clarified the need for the judge to take into account “In the event of a health disaster, the state of scientific knowledge at the time”.

According to the Keeper of the Seals, Nicole Belloubet, and the deputies of the majority, this is only a detail corresponding to current jurisprudence, since the judge “Always assess the situation in concreto, on a case by case basis”.

What Fauchon law says

This debate brought to light the provisions of the law of July 10, 2000, passed on the initiative of Senator Pierre Fauchon. A text which aimed to better protect mayors faced with an increase in legal proceedings of all kinds.

This Fauchon law provides that individuals are criminally responsible if it is established that they have ” manifestly willful breach of a particular duty of care or safety provided for by law or regulation ” They may also be held criminally liable if these persons have “ committed gross misconduct which exposed others to a risk of particular gravity which they could not ignore

According to Me Bernard Fau, lawyer specializing in public health affairs, this law is, in fact, very protective for elected officials. ” To succeed in criminally challenging a mayor, it must be shown that he has willfully breached his obligation to protect his citizens. Or that an Ehpad manager, for example, knowingly acted to expose residents of his facility to contamination

Deconfinement, a special situation

According to him, it is this same Fauchon law that has enabled a number of political or health decision-makers to avoid being criminally implicated in several major public health scandals in recent years. ” Because these decision-makers, even if they could have been negligent or failed, did not deliberately wish for the health damage that ultimately affected the victims Said the lawyer.

While therefore deeming the current law very protective, Me Fau notes, however, that the current situation is special. ” The state imposes deconfinement protocols with multiple rules and extremely precise. And that will perhaps open the way to legal remedies aimed at showing that such a decision maker did not respect a certain provision appearing for example on page 17 or 34 of the deconfinement protocol that he must respect. This increases the possibilities of appeal. But to convict a decision-maker, it will always have to be established that he deliberately refrained from respecting this or that rule.


why more measures than for a flu peak?

Since the first three cases of Chinese tourists with coronavirus, detected in the Paris region on January 24, the government of Edouard Philippe is taking gradual measures to try to stem the progression of the virus. Olivier Véran, Minister of Health, now recognizes that France is undergoing an epidemic and has activated “stage 2 epidemic”.

► Coronavirus and influenza, what similarities and what differences?

The symptoms of influenza and coronavirus are similar: fever, body aches, general tiredness, cough, shortness of breath… ” Only biological tests can differentiate them “, Assures the virologist Bruno Lina, professor of virology and responsible for the national center of reference virus of respiratory infections of Lyon. As for the mortality rate, from 2 per 1000 for influenza, it rises to 2% for the coronavirus.

→ ANALYSIS. Coronavirus and flu, similarities and real differences

Canadian and Chinese studies also report that the contagiousness index (the number of people infected by a patient) of the coronavirus is between 1.5 and 3.5, twice the rate of seasonal flu. Finally, the profile of the patients differs a little: the flu affects children a lot, unlike the coronavirus which attacks more the elderly and already weakened.

► What measures is the government taking in the midst of an influenza epidemic?

To prevent the epidemiological threshold of influenza, the government launches annual advertising campaigns. In the media, the authorities issue health instructions and recommend getting vaccinated.

→ RECAP ’. Coronavirus: two new deaths and a sharp increase in cases in France

Influenza vaccination is highly recommended for people at risk (health professionals, pregnant women, the elderly, etc.), who benefit from free treatment. In comparison, seasonal flu affected 1.8 million French people last winter for 8,100 deaths, according to the France Public Health Health Agency. These figures are still much higher than those recorded for the coronavirus.

→ READ. Coronavirus: not always easy to apply hygiene rules at school

But the disease, still unknown and without treatment, arouses among the population a fear that the authorities must temper and anticipate. To the detriment of leisure, education and even the economy, Olivier Véran has notably decided to ban confined gatherings of more than 5,000 people (cancellation, for example, of the Book Fair or sporting events). These strong measures therefore go far beyond the classic communication made for seasonal flu