RSF hails Paris court decision quashing order censoring Mediapart

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the ruling issued by the Judicial Court of Paris the 30 November overturning a 12-day-old injunction that banned, Mediapart from publishing further revelations about the mayor of the southeastern city of Saint-Étienne. This decision safeguards the fundamental principles of press law.

The injunction issued on 18 November at the mayor’s request had prohibited Mediapart from publishing any follow-up to its revelations about the mayor’s political practices, including his alleged use for a sex-tape for blackmail purposes.

 

“This important decision restores the fundamentals of press law. It upholds what has been a cardinal principle of our democracy since the 19th century – the prohibition of prior censorship. And it prevents press law from being circumvented in order to prevent the publication of investigative reporting by journalists.

Christophe Deloire
RSF secretary-general

Heavily condemned by RSF and by the entire media profession, this order was issued at a hearing at which Mediapart was given no opportunity to defend itself. Using a civil law procedure never used in press law, this decision amounted to prior censorship of public interest information.

At a hearing held on 25 November, RSF intervened in support of Mediapart’s appeal against the ban. RSF’s lawyer, Valérie Kasparian, argued that, by issuing an injunction without hearing Mediapart’s arguments, the court had flouted basic European Court of Human Rights principles concerning freedom of expression.

The Association of Press Law Practitioners, which also intervened in support of Mediapart's appeal, told the court that the injunction was completely unprecedented and "against all the values that imbue our press law.” X Even the public prosecutor spoke at the hearing, saying the case “illustrates the importance of the adversarial principle and the difficulty of issuing rulings without adversarial debate."

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