Trials can now be filmed in France

Divorce hearing, over-indebtedness, misdemeanor judged in correctional… Trials can now be filmed, according to an official decree published Friday, April 1 by the government. Broadcasters must send their request to the Ministry of Justice, which will issue an opinion, with the final decision resting with the heads of jurisdiction.

To be filmed, the project must have an objective “of public interest of a pedagogical, informative, cultural or scientific nature”specifies the decree published in Official newspaper. Until now, it has been strictly forbidden in France to photograph and film hearings since 1954.

A few exceptions had been allowed since 1985 in order to constitute historical archives, but only 15 trials had so far received this authorization, such as that of Klaus Barbie in 1987, the trial of the January 2015 attacks and that of the November 13 attacks, underway in Paris since September.

All hearings can now be the subject of a filming request: those at the criminal court, the commercial court or the industrial tribunal, but also those usually closed to the public, such as hearings with the juvenile judge, those relate to family matters (divorce, parental authority, etc.) or the enforcement of sentences.

Once authorization has been obtained, if it is a public hearing, those present cannot oppose the recording. If the hearing is not public, the broadcaster must obtain the agreement of all parties.

Dissemination can then take place immediately in the case of the Council of State and the Court of Cassation. In all other cases, it will only be possible when the decision rendered is final (for example, once the deadline for appealing has expired).

Those present, including magistrates, will be able to sign an agreement for the dissemination of their image. Otherwise, the broadcaster will be bound by an “obligatory concealment” to avoid identifying them, according to the decree: the civil status elements must thus be “modified or masked, faces and silhouettes blurred and voices distorted”.

This will systematically be the case for minors, protected persons and law enforcement officers whose missions require, for security reasons, that their anonymity be guaranteed. The text also provides for a right to be forgotten: no identification element may be broadcast after five years from the first broadcast.

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