French mayor encourages whistleblowing in confinement

Notices posted in public foyers of apartment buildings encouraged residents to call police if they saw anyone flouting strict rules on gatherings

14 April 2020
By Connexion journalist

A mayor has defended her decision to post notices in communal areas of apartment buildings urging residents to contact police if they see anyone flouting confinement regulations.

Sylvie Carillion aroused criticism after the signs were placed in public foyers of buildings on the two areas of the Essonne town of Montregon.

The notices called for residents to assist police in ensuring people are sticking to confinement rules, stating: “If you witness people flouting the confinement, I invite you to alert the municipal or national police (by calling 17) so that security forces can intervene without delay.”

Read more: Macron: May 11 is start of deconfinement in France

Residents said that they regarded it as an extreme form of whistle-blowing. Some critics likened it to historic letters of denunciation sent to authorities during the Vichy regime in the Second World War, which made unsubstantiated allegations against French citizens.

One elected official, Céline Ciéplinski, told Le Parisien: “We had decided to remain silent during this exceptional situation. But, here, a red line was crossed.”

But Ms Carillion, who was re-elected in the first round of municipal elections in March, said: “When you are witness to a road accident or behaviour that infringes the law or puts people in danger, you call the police services and/or the fire brigade and it’s the act of a good citizen.

“Today, COVID-19 is invisible but the danger it poses is very real. Confinement is a general measure to protect oneself and others. Respecting this is indispensable and to ask the authorities to respect it shows civic-mindedness.

“This is why I stand by the letter I wrote and am deeply shocked by the use of words and totally inappropriate historic references.”

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