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international bordercamp strasbourg

Advice from the Legal Team

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07.Jul.02 - • As soon as you are able, carefully read the Handbook for the active demonstrator, which is freely available in French, English, Italian, German and Spanish. It provides essential information on detention, formal charging procedures, trials and sentences, as well as necessary support systems for those charged.

• Try to equip yourself with something to cover your face in case of agitation. Masks are not illegal in France. Try to have a quick change of clothes (most identification records are usually pretty unsubtle, based on obviously visible factors like colour of clothing, bags, hairstyles, paint-marks and so on). Use bags tight on the body and tuck in hoods, otherwise these provide handles for the cops the catch you by...

• Maintain solidarity with other demonstrators. You may sometimes be able to free comrades as they are arrested provided you watch out for any risk of further arrest, provided you are there in sufficient numbers and you are sufficiently well-organized. Assist anyone wounded or unable to move freely, for instance because they have been blinded by tear-gas, and help them away from trouble-spots.

• In the demonstration as a whole and especially in case of police charges, avoid panicking, remain grouped, stay alert, avoid entrapment (being manoeuvred into a cul-de-sac, without getaway).

• Beware of video and still cameras. Images may be used as evidence against you if they fall into police hands.

• Do not loudly brag about your own deeds or anyone else's, even after the demonstration is over. The danger of arrest remains after the demonstration is over in the surrounding area and on public transport.

• Try not to attend a demonstration alone. If you, make contact with others so as not to remain isolated. Do not leave isolated comrades behind when you leave. Count yourselves. Know who you set out with. Try to make sure you have not lost anyone on the way.

• Be aware that being stopped in possession of a weapon (Swiss Army knife, beer bottle, loose stones) or drugs may in itself lead to charges. Plastic bottles are preferable to glass ones.

• If you are stopped by the police, from the first tell them you have nothing to say and maintain that line all the time you are held at the station (except when asked to give your name). Sign nothing. Keep your self-control. Await developments stoically. When asked your identity, give only basic details (this is called "petit état civil), meaning family name, first name, address, profession, date and place of birth). If you are kept more than four hours, you are no longer just being held while your identity is checked (technically, in French, for a "contrôle d'identité"); you are under arrest (technically, in French, "en garde à vue"). This may last up to 24 hours, or up to 48 hours if the "garde à vue" is renewed. It may lead, though this is not always the case, to an immediate court appearance. It is best to refuse this procedure. You have the right to make a phone call: let the Legal Team know you are being held and they will contact anyone they are told, providing you give them the number. Ask to see a lawyer as soon as possible. You are entitled to do so after the first hour of "garde à vue", i.e. hours after entering the police station. Also ask to see a doctor. If you are brought before a court immediately, refuse trial so that you have time to prepare your defence.

• If you witness an arrest, contact the Legal Team on 03 8861 2033

• If you notice a breach of legal procedure during your arrest, your "contrôle d'identité" or your "garde à vue", you may be wise not to mention it as it may later serve as grounds for annulling your case.

• If when arrested you are legally entitled to be on French soil (i.e. you are a citizen of a country whose citizens may travel to France without a visa, you have not been refused residency, you have not been refused entry), try to contact the Legal Team or have someone else contact it on 03 88612033 Please be precise about the number arrested, their names where possible, the time, place and circumstances of arrest) and try to make sure you do not spread information which is unverified.

• If you are arrested and not entitled to be on French soil (i.e. if you are a citizen of a country whose citizens must possess a tourist visa for entry into France, if you have been refused a French residence permit, if you have been banned from entry into France or from entry into the Schengen Area, plase call 03 8861 2033

• However overjoyed you are on being released, please do not forget to inform the Legal Team on the second line.

• The Legal Team is extremely keen to encourage active individual or collective participation in its work by any person or group related to an instance of repression (for instance, anyone involved in organizing and anyone taking part in the events repressed).

Last minute advice (12th July 2002)

Minors: You should try and obtain a "décharge legale", which is a letter placing you in the care either of an adult participating in the camp or easily reachable in Strasbourg. If you cannot identify such a person, please let us know.

This what a "décharge légale" should say:"Je confie la garde de mon enfant de façon temporarire à..." which means "I provisionally entrust X with responsibility for my child." It should be accompanied by a photocopy of your parents' identity card or passport.

This is an important document to obtain for minors in case of legal proceedings (the minimum age for "garde-à-vue" (being held under arrest) is 13. It is also important if you need medical care, and if you want to avoid your parents or guardian travelling across France/Europe to come and collect you."

For all French people able to prove residence, bring proof of residence in the form of an electricity, gas or telephone bill. It is helpful for foreigners to able to prove that they are staying with french friends.


Legal Workshop: "exchanges of knowledges/legal indications for a period of camps"
dimanche 18h -19h30
lundi 18h -19h30
mardi 18h -19h30

Legal Team nr tel: 03 8861 2033