French Judges Go on Strike
Tuesday 15 February 2011
The misery of the French justice system is so great that even the judges have now been forced to take unprecedented strike action.
The magistrates have denounced the lack of funding for the justice system, and have been joined in their strike action by court officials.
The issue has actually been a slow burning one for many years, which has now turned into a raging fire.
The fire has been inflamed in large measure by insensitive remarks made recently by President Sarkozy after the murder of Laetitia Perrais, a girl of 18 years, who was abducted near her home town of Nantes, and who is suspected to have come to her death by a former prisoner on probation.
The President blamed her death directly on the judicial system, by stating bluntly that the murderer had not been followed effectively enough by the probation services.
The government have also tried to smear the judges further by leaking parts of an internal report into the murder, which seems to confirm the accusations of the President.
The judges dispute this version of events with Matthieu Bonduelle, secretary general of the magistrataes union (SM), stating that 'l'assassinat a été commis par une personne, pas par le système judiciaire'
So they are out on the streets protesting against the massive underfunding of the system, and in particular the lack of resources associated with the Laetitia case.
Other grievences are also mixed up in the dispute, notably the hostility of the judges to the introduction of public juries in criminal cases, and their opposition to toughening of the laws on juvenile offenders.
Although no public service can be wholly assessed in terms of the budgets at their disposal, it is salutary to examine just how much France spends on their justice system.
According to data from the European Commission, France spent less than half that of Germany, a country which the French President claims is a much vaunted model that all others should emulate.
France also spends 50% less than Spain, 30% less than the UK, and even 24% less than Mafia ridden Italy!
The following graphic from the EU Commission shows the budget per person of the justice systems in the major countries of Europe. It shows France down near the bottom, next to Poland.
To see full size image: right cick on the image and save it.