FN mayor evicts human rights group

Newly elected town leader forces League of Human Rights out of offices and cuts its €300 municipal subsidy

8 April 2014

THE FRONT National mayor of Henin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais, has thrown the town’s League of Human Rights (LDH) out of its offices, accusing the organisation of “interfering in municipal life”.

France Info reported that mayor Steeve Briois also said that the organisation was “squatting” as it had not signed a lease on its offices, from where it had operated rent-free for 10 years.

He added that it was not entitled to the €300-a-year subsidy it received from official coffers, France Info said.

Mr Briois cited a 2002 ruling by the Conseil D’Etat, which rescinded a municipal grant to the League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism in Draguignan.

Mr Briois, who was elected to office in the first round of the local elections in March, criticised France Info for reporting his decision, saying: “It is a shame that the self-righteous media have criticised the the municipal team for enforcing the law.”

He said: “The law will be respected in Henin-Beaumont.”

The LDH, which had spoken out against Mr Briois during the campaign, said it had expected the decision as the mayor promised in the run up to the vote that the “illegal” use of municipal premises would be stopped if he was voted in.

The president of the local association said that they would find other premises and promised that the LDH would “not give up. We will not desert the field or abandon the fight”.

The LDH was founded in 1898, at the height of the notorious Dreyfus Affair that divided political society in France between 1894 and 1906.

Its declared objective is to observe and defend the rights of man in all spheres of public life in the French Republic. It is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and lists a Nobel Peace Prize winner as one of its past presidents.

There is a statue to its founder, Ludovic Trarieux, in Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris.

Photo: Blandine Le Cain

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