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French Fears Of Criminal Responsibility For The Crime Of October 17, 1961

Mohamed Moslem / English version: Dalila Henache
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French Fears Of Criminal Responsibility For The Crime Of October 17, 1961

A major debate is raging between French MPs at the Senate level on the “Proposal for a Law to Commemorate the Repression of the Algerians on October 17, 1961, and the Following Days in Paris”, a proposal made by representatives of the Socialist Party and their ecologist allies (left-wing).

The proposal calls for acknowledging France’s responsibility in the suppression of the peaceful protests of Algerians who demanded the independence of their country in Paris on October 17, 1961, and to protest against preventing them (without applying the same measures on other nationals in France) from roaming at night in France. it also proposes in its second article an annual commemoration in honour of the victims of this repression.

The project, according to what was stated in the text at the level of the specialized committee of the French Parliament, is a “symbolic and memorial invitation, not a criminal one, since the events that occurred more than sixty years ago”, which affirms that those accused of these facts (crimes) were included in the amnesty established in 1962.

The project talks about “the concealment of facts by all (French) political actors, for various reasons.” However, at the beginning of 1986, historical works began to expose the hidden, similar to those carried out by the British historians, Jim House and Neil McMaster, and French historians as well. In addition to parliamentary initiatives and others attributed to the former French President, François Hollande.

Proceeding from the foregoing, the draft law submitted for consideration goes to the proposal to go to the recognition of the responsibility of the French state in these events (crimes), taking into account the violence from the other side, which targeted the French police about the alleged responsibility of the National Liberation Front, a controversy that the French raise whenever the discussion about the crimes of the occupation in Algeria returns.

The draft law talks about “the commission of illegal acts of violence during the crackdown on the protests of October 17, 1961, and the following days”, but insists on avoiding delving into the nature and characterization of this repression, which may result in criminal and not only political responsibility for the French state.

The obsession of those who reject this legal proposal or have reservations about it is referred to in this document, which copy was checked out by Echorouk, with what it called “the difficulties accompanying it, which would lead to new demands or the emergence of a race of memories that we (the French) all wish to avoid.”

Those haunted by these fears refer to events that took place in Algeria, of which the Europeans (black feet) were victims, while the accused was the French army, about the events that took place on Larbi Ben M’hidi Street (formerly la rue d’Isly) after March 19, 1962, and what happened on July 5 of the same year in Oran.

The proposed law is still under discussion at the level of the relevant committee of the Senate, and it is noted in the document that the French legislators, and although this proposal does not carry much out of what the Algerians expect, the French legislators showed a lot of caution in dealing with this file for fear of being employed by Algeria in the war of memory that has raged between the two countries for decades.

One of the issues that French legislators focused on is avoiding everything that would open the way for the political and criminal responsibility of the French state for the crimes committed by French colonialism in Algeria to avoid the legal accountability demanded by the Algerians, which results in other demands such as compensation for crimes and looting, which affected the country’s capabilities for more than a century.

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