“For a right to the assistance of a lawyer as soon as a complaint is filed”

5:00 p.m., November 5, 2022

Here is their platform. “Five years ago, the Me Too movement lifted the taboo on sexist and sexual violence. Four years later, in September 2021, the testimony of a young woman denounced the poor conditions for collecting her complaint. To #MeToo, was added the hashtag ” Double Punishment
“, encouraging thousands of victims to express themselves on the way in which they were received in the police stations and the gendarmeries.

It is clear that for victims of sexist and sexual violence, access to justice is perilous. Unknown perpetrator, insufficiently characterized offense, so many reasons targeted by the prosecution to justify a decision to classify without follow-up. This document of a few lines which puts an end to the investigation without further pedagogy crystallizes a first gap between the plaintiff and the judicial institution. It is true that sexual violence has the particularity of being perpetrated most often in private, which leads to difficulties of proof. These are few in number and disappear over time. The speed and exhaustiveness of the filing of a complaint, the founding act of the investigation, are therefore decisive.

A year ago, in the columns of Sunday newspaperwe called for the improvement of the reception of victims in police stations, in particular by creating a right to the assistance of a lawyer as soon as a complaint is filed.

Read also – Sexual violence, the appeal of 100 lawyers: “We must put an end to the hazard of filing a complaint”

Since then, despite the efforts made, the training of some of the police and gendarmes, difficulties remain. Even today, the care of victims in police stations is inadequate and encourages them to abandon the legal fight. The premises of the police stations and gendarmeries do not allow the confidentiality of the exchanges, the waiting period to obtain a psychological expertise at the medico-judicial units of Paris is nine months. The willingness of law enforcement to carry out these investigations often comes up against a lack of resources.

How to file serenely without knowing your rights?

Moreover, it is appalling that the notification of the rights of complainants only occurs after the filing of a complaint. How to file serenely without knowing your rights?

Read also – “Systematic” complaint from women victims of violence: why what Darmanin says is improbable

If since December 23, 2021 the complainants now have the right to be ” accompanied of a lawyer when filing a complaint, it is not enough. The lawyer does not accompany his client, he assists him. He must be able to ask questions, make observations, and thus contribute to the manifestation of the truth. This may seem obvious, but the code of criminal procedure does not allow it.
Also, in the state of the texts, the victims experience, according to their financial means, a major inequality. If the legislation provides for the possibility of being accompanied of a lawyer, it does not provide for his support by legal aid.

Necessarily, for this right to be effective, the intervention of the lawyer must, when the conditions are met, be paid for by the State, and guaranteed by a system of ex officio commissions which will thus ensure, for all, equal access to justice.

The Code of Criminal Procedure must be amended to enshrine an effective right to the assistance of a lawyer as soon as a complaint is filed.

This will not change everything, but the creation of a real right to the assistance of a lawyer as soon as a complaint is filed is essential, in order to guarantee respect for victims of their rights, improve the efficiency of criminal proceedings and strengthen confidence in our judicial system. »

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