French Ministry of Interior to wipe out records of the fingerprints of 6 million French nationals. …

Liberté, égalité, fraternité – liberty, equality, brotherhood – France’s national motto which dates from the French Revolution (1789-1799) but which was institutionalized only in the Third Republic towards the end of the 19th Century (we are currently in the 5th Republic) – is according to five French nationals being abused. They have taken the State […]

Liberté, égalité, fraternité – liberty, equality, brotherhood – France’s national motto which dates from the French Revolution (1789-1799) but which was institutionalized only in the Third Republic towards the end of the 19th Century (we are currently in the 5th Republic) – is according to five French nationals being abused. They have taken the State to court.

How come?

When they applied for new biometric passports in April 2008 they had to allow the authorities to take the imprints of all their fingers. This was demanded despite that only the prints of two fingers – the index fingers – were needed when applying for a passport. So they refused.

“We are not against biometric passports, but against the fact that the prints of eight fingers were to be taken,” said Didier Cujives, one of the plaintiffs, to the media. He is Mayor of the small town of Paulhac (1,200 inhabitants) in the region of Midi-Pyrénées in the southwest corner of France.

The State was actually in the right demanding the imprint of eight fingers as Article 5 of the Decree of April 30, 2008, indeed allowed it to do so. (The decree had become law just at the time when the five’s applications were being processed and therefore were applicable.)

On October 26, 2011 the five appeared in court and the Conseil d’État (Council of State) which provides the governing bodies of France with legal advice ruled that the five were right and that as only the prints of the two index fingers were needed for a passport, only the prints of those two fingers should be taken. Accordingly, on December 1, 2011 the State announced that it would annul the April 30, 2008 decree and that it would accordingly destroy all the unneeded fingerprints. Those would come to 6.3 million.

However, to date the State has not destroyed the fingerprints, and what is more, in some regions of the country, the Préfecture de Police – Prefecture of Police – to whom one applies for a passport, was still insisting on the prints of all fingers and not only of the two index fingers.

The five accordingly decided to maintain their case against the State and a judgment is expected on May 15. They are also suing the State for damages and for the reimbursement of their legal costs. They still do not have their passports.

As for the 6.30 million fingerprints which have to be destroyed. The Ministry of Interior says that it is busy doing so. It will take them until the end of September.

I wonder: Were you fingerprinted when you applied for a passport? Mayor Cijives claims that France is the only country in the world that inflicts such a liberticide (destruction of freedom) on its nationals.

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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