Terrorismo, libertà d’espressione e social network: la recente giurisprudenza francese

Pubblicato sul Quotidiano giuridico del 27 giugno 2017

Il primo marzo scorso il Tribunal correctionel di Bordeaux condannava un soggetto ai sensi dell’art. 222-18-1 del codice penale francese per aver divulgato minacce su Twitter. Secondo i giudicanti, la resa pubblica delle minacce attraverso il noto social network integrava la condotta criminosa di minacce commesse “à raison de l’appartenance ou de la non-appartenance, vraie ou supposée, de la victime à une ethnie, une nation, une race ou une religion déterminée” attraverso scritti ovvero immagini o altro, come previsto dal citato articolo. La condotta incriminata consisteva nella pubblicazione di foto di armi attraverso quattro diversi profili aventi la bandiera del c.d. “Stato Islamico”, ma collegati ad uno stesso indirizzo IP. Tale circostanza aveva consentito agli inquirenti di risalire all’identità dell’imputato. Ulteriormente, i giudicanti giustificavano la severità della condanna da un lato a causa della gravità dei fatti e della personalità aggressiva dell’imputato (già pregiudicato per maltrattamenti in famiglia); mentre dall’altro in considerazione della circostanza che vittima di tali minacce fosse un esperto in materia di jiadismo, già minacciato in precedenza. Tuttavia, in questo caso l’imputato era a conoscenza di precise informazioni sulla vita privata della vittima, da renderele minacce più concrete. I giudici hanno rigettato le istanze della difesa che aveva invocato da un lato il diritto di satira e di libertà di manifestazione del pensiero, dall’altro che tali minacce non fossero serie, ma rappresentassero soltanto un gioco per fare paura. Secondo i giudici già il primo messaggio, cioè un appello al martirio, era idoneo e sufficiente a integrare la condotta incriminatrice, mentre i messaggi successivi concernevano minacce di morte, rafforzate dall’uso della bandiera nera.

Il 30 maggio 2017 il Tribunal de Grande Instance di Parigi si è occupato di un caso di divulgazione non autorizzata di un video. Come è noto, la sera del 13 novembre 2015 a Parigi ci fu un attacco terroristico coordinato nei confronti di 8 locali pubblici, tra cui la pizzeria degli imputati. Il 19 novembre 2015 il sito web del Daily Mail pubblicò online un video raffigurante lo svolgimento dell’attacco nel suddetto ristorante e tre avventori si riconobbero nelle terribili immagini e chiesero al giornale di ritirare il video dal web, ma il Daily Mail si rifiutò. Pertanto, i clienti presentarono denuncia per violazione dell’articolo L 254-1, relativo ai sistemi di videoprotezione, del codice della sicurezza, dell’art. 321-1 del codice penale in combinato disposto con l’art. 226-1 relativamente alla raccolta e alla registrazione di immagini interenti alla vita privata. La successiva indagine penale rilevò che le immagini divulgate furono registrate da videocamere installate nel ristorante e sulla terrazza, ma che non furono debitamente autorizzate dal prefetto, come stabilito dall’art. 252-2 del codice della sicurezza.

L’interesse della decisione in parola riguarda il fatto che siffatta normativa in materia di sicurezza si applica tanto nei luoghi pubblici tanto in quelli aperti al pubblico come un esercizio commerciale, per questo il responsabile del ristorante avrebbe dovuto chiedere, e ottenere, una specifica autorizzazione sia per sé sia per un terzo autorizzato ad accedere alle immagini.

Tuttavia l’imputato consentì a terzi non autorizzati di accedere alle immagini divulgate dal sito web del giornale britannico dietro una transazione di natura economica. I giudici stigmatizzano severamente quanto accaduto, poiché i fatti hanno un carattere di gravità innegabile. In particolare, “l’interessato non ha esitato a monetizzare il video su un evento particolarmente tragico che ha profondamente influenzato non solo le vittime dirette, ma anche la comunità nazionale ed internazionale, e minato l’integrità psichica di uomini e donne già duramente colpiti da questa tragedia”. In conseguenza di ciò, i giudici francesi hanno condannato ad un’ammenda di diecimila euro il responsabile del ristorante (e i due suoi collaboratori a versare cinquemila e millecinquecento euro) per aver installato l’impianto di videosorveglianza senza autorizzazione e per la divulgazione non autorizzata delle suddette immagini. Parimenti i prevenuti sono stati condannati in via solidale a versare cinquemila euro a ciascuna delle parti civili per danno morale, nonché a mille euro ai sensi dell’art. 475 del codice di procedura penale.

Charlie Gard, la penultima decisione

Neutral Citation Number: [2017] EWHC 1909 (Fam)
Case No: FD17P00103

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
24 July 2017

B e f o r e :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE FRANCIS
____________________
Between:
GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL
Applicant

– and –
(1) CONSTANCE YATES
(2) CHRISTOPHER GARD
(3) CHARLIE GARD (by his Guardian)
Respondents

____________________

Ms K Gollop QC (instructed by GOSH Legal Services) for the Applicant
Mr G Armstrong & Mr G Rothschild (instructed by Harris da Silva Solicitors) for the Respondents
Ms V Butler-Cole (instructed by CAFCASS) for the Guardian

Hearing dates: 10, 13, 14, 21 & 24 July 2017
____________________

HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT APPROVED
____________________

Crown Copyright ©

Mr Justice Francis:
It is impossible for any of us to comprehend or even begin to imagine the agony to which Charlie’s parents have been subjected in recent weeks and months as they have had to come to terms with the decision that they have now made. A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts. My task today is to deal with the applications that are before me and to make the declarations which are now unopposed. Before I do so I must, again, pay tribute to Chris Gard and Connie Yates for the love and care which they have at all times given to their wonderful boy Charlie. I said in my judgment on 11 April that there are few, if any, stronger bonds known to humankind than the love that a parent has for his or her child; to lose a child, particularly at such a tender age, and in such tragic circumstances, is grief of a magnitude of immense proportions. These parents should know that no parent could have done more for their child. They have, however, now accepted that Charlie’s life cannot be improved and that the only remaining course is for him to be given palliative care and to permit him to die with dignity.

By application dated 7 July 2017, Great Ormond Street Hospital for children NHS foundation trust (“Gosh”) applies for the following:

“the hospital asks the court to affirm the declarations made 11/04/17 if necessary after hearing further evidence. In view of the unique situation that has developed, the hospital also asked the court to make orders in the same terms. The hospital would not normally seek orders and does so for the following reasons among others: in his judgement, Francis J said that it was in Charlie’s best interests to be allowed to slip away peacefully. Decisions expressed as orders would better enable hospital to achieve that aim than would further declarations; the declarations have been interpreted by the White House, and thereafter by the parents through their solicitors, as permitting Charlie’s transfer to another hospital for NBT treatment. Aside from the fact that the declarations say that treatment is not in Charlie’s best interests. The hospital does not understand this line of reasoning but has no expectation that it would be possible to reach agreement about the legal effect of the declarations. Therefore orders are sought to remove any ambiguity; orders are enforceable. Despite all of the hospitals best endeavours, this appears as potentially necessary. Not for the first time the parents through their solicitors raised the prospect of criminal proceedings against the hospital and its staff. The Hospital understands that no court order best interests proceedings can afford it or its staff from prosecution.”

On 11 April 2017, after a hearing lasting several days which included detailed oral evidence from a number of experts, including an expert independently instructed by Charlie’s parents, who agreed with the experts from GOSH, and having of course heard evidence from the parents themselves, I made the following declarations:

i. Charlie, by reason of his minority, lacks capacity to make decisions regarding his medical treatment;

ii. it is not in Charlie’s best interests for artificial ventilation to continue to be provided to and it is therefore lawful and in his best interests to be withdrawn;

iii. it is lawful and in Charlie’s best interests for his treating clinicians to provide him with palliative care only;

iv. It is lawful and in Charlie’s best interests not to undergo nucleoside therapy.

Provided always that the measures and treatments adopted of the most compatible with maintaining Charlie’s dignity.

The parents asked me to give them permission to appeal this decision which I refused. The parents renewed the permission application to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal gave permission to appeal on two new grounds which had not been argued before me, but then dismissed the appeal and refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The parents appealed to the Supreme Court and their application for permission to appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court on 8th June.

The parents then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on 19 June. The decision of the European Court was handed down on the 28 June 2017. In a comprehensive judgment, the European Court declared the application inadmissible.

Accordingly, the decision which I made on 11 April has been considered in detail, and upheld by three levels of appeal court and the parents’ appeal remedies have been exhausted. During all the time when the parents were pursuing their various appeals, GOSH agreed to continue to treat Charlie.

Within a few days of the decision of the European courts, the parents’ solicitors contacted GOSH asserting that there was evidence and that there was a duty to refer the matter back to the court. The new evidence which that letter asserted can be summarised as follows:

a) the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital, Rome is willing to accept the transfer of Charlie;

b) Dr. Hirano and the associated medical centre in the USA remain willing to accept the transfer of Charlie;

c) on the basis of new laboratory findings, Dr. Hirano considers:

i) the likelihood of a positive effect and benefits to Charlie of the proposed nucleoside therapy to be markedly improved compared to the views expressed in court;

ii) the likelihood that the proposed nucleoside therapy will cross the blood brain barrier to be significantly enhanced.

In spite of these assertions, Dr. Hirano had still not seen Charlie.

The letter continued to assert that the best interests assessment and declaration have been overtaken by events and were potentially unsafe and that the best interests assessment is now weighted significantly in favour of preserving Charlie’s life and providing NBT. Moreover, the case had by this stage escalated to an international scale and had even involved President Trump, the Vatican and Theresa May. In these circumstances it is right and proper that GOSH have made this application. It is, however, tragic to reflect upon the fact that more than three months have now passed since the declaration that I made in April. During the most recent hearings I have had to balance on one hand the need to deal with this case as expeditiously as possible and on the other hand the need to give proper consideration to a very considerable amount of evidence. I am aware that the legal teams on all sides have worked tirelessly around the clock in their endeavour to assist the court.

From the outset of this second hearing, I made it clear that I could only change the decision that I made on 11 April on the basis of compelling new evidence. No one has sought to assert that this approach is incorrect, nor could they, given the detailed judgment that I gave in April, having considered all of the medical evidence, and the review of that judgment by the three layers of appeal to which I have already referred. I also made it clear that I could only consider the case on the basis of evidence and not on the basis of partially informed or ill-informed opinion, however eminent the source of that opinion. I made it clear that I would always listen carefully to any new and material evidence. The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based. When I became a judge, I took the same oath that all judges in England and Wales take and I promised to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this Realm. When jurors are sworn in in criminal trials they promise to try the case according to the evidence.

I have at all times endeavoured to remain faithful to that oath, to apply the law having heard and considered the evidence. When Dr Hirano was kind enough to give up his time to give evidence by video link to this Court some two weeks ago, I invited him to travel to England to see Charlie and this is an invitation which he was good enough to take up, doubtless at extreme inconvenience to himself and, I daresay, to other patients of his. It seems to me to be a remarkably simple proposition that if a doctor is to give evidence to this court about the prospect of effective treatment in respect of a child whose future is being considered by the court, that Dr should see the patient before the court can sensibly rely upon his evidence. My task has always been to determine what is in Charlie’s best interests, not what benefit there could be to scientific research.

Other eminent practitioners both from GOSH and from around the world attended a multidisciplinary meeting last week on Monday 17th July. There was a considerable degree of consensus but the view was taken that further scans needed to be carried out to establish whether the position that GOSH has for some time been maintaining is correct. Last week further MRI scans were conducted of Charlie’s entire body and it transpired that in some places Charlie now has no muscle at all, and in other places there is significant replacement of muscle by fat.

The consequences of the MRI scans were briefly referred to in court last Friday. The parents have had to face the reality, almost impossible to contemplate; that Charlie is beyond any help even from experimental treatment and that it is in his best interests for him to be allowed to die. Given the consensus that now exists between parents, the treating doctors and even Dr Hirano, it is my very sad duty to confirm the declarations that I made in April this year, and I now formally do so. I do not make a mandatory order.

I remind myself, and others listening to this judgment, that the nucleoside therapy for which the parents had been contending has not even been tried on mice with the same strain of mitochondrial disease from which Charlie suffers, let alone humans.

There are four matters to which I feel that I need to make reference before we finish. The first is that I wish to thank all of the medical experts from whom I have heard evidence in this case. I know they have made themselves available to the court and to the parents when they were doubtless needed by other patients. Furthermore, I wish to thank all of the men and women at Great Ormond Street Hospital who have worked tirelessly since last October to treat Charlie. Great Ormond Street Hospital has for a very long time been, and continues to be, held in exceptionally high regard around the world for its excellence and expertise in the treatment of sick children. It has sadly come in to the public domain recently that some of the staff at that hospital have been subjected to serious threats and abuse. I made it clear before, and make it clear now, that I am completely satisfied that these fine parents have nothing whatever to do with those threats. Each and every man and woman working at Great Ormond Street Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of sick, very often desperately sick, children. These surgeons, physicians, doctors, nurses, ancillary staff, technicians and all others working there are dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the treatment of sick children and it is in my judgment a disgrace that they should have been subjected to any form of abuse whatsoever and it is to be condemned.

Secondly, I wish to thank all of the lawyers in this case who have assisted the court but, in particular, the team who have worked for the parents because they have done it not for financial reward but have given their services free. It is not for judges to make political points and I do not now seek to do so. However, it does seem to me that when Parliament changed the law in relation to legal aid and significantly restricted the availability of legal aid, yet continued to make legal aid available in care cases where the state is seeking orders against parents, it cannot have intended that parents in the position that these parents have been in should have no access to legal advice or representation. To most like-minded people, a National Health Service trust is as much an arm of the state as is a local authority. I can think of few more profound cases than ones where a trust is applying to the court for a declaration that a life-support machine should be switched off in respect of a child. Mercifully, Mr Gard and Ms Yates have secured the services of highly qualified and experienced legal team whose lawyers have been willing to give their services pro bono. I am aware that there are many parents around the country in similar positions where their cases have been less public and where they have had to struggle to represent themselves. I cannot imagine that anyone ever intended parents to be in this position.

Thirdly, I think it my duty to comment briefly on the absurd notion which has appeared in recent days that Charlie has been a prisoner of the National Health Service or that the National Health Service has the power to decide Charlie’s fate. This is the antithesis of the truth. In this country children have rights independent of their parents. Almost all of the time parents make decisions about what is in the best interests of their children and so it should be. Just occasionally, however, there will be circumstances such as here where a hospital and parents are unable to decide what is in the best interests of a child who is a patient at that hospital. It is precisely because the hospital does not have power in respect of that child that this hospital makes an application to the court, to an independent judge, for a determination of what is in that child’s best interests. In circumstances where there is a dispute between parents and the hospital, it was essential that Charlie was himself independently represented and a guardian was therefore appointed to represent Charlie so that there was someone who could independently report to the court as to what was in his best interests. Our judges are fiercely independent of the state and make decisions, having heard evidence and having considered the law. Our law in relation to children in circumstances such as this is governed by section 1 of the Children Act 1989 which contains a proposition which I suggest would be hard to criticise. Section 1 provides as follows:

“when a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration”.

The application which GOSH made in April and which they bring now is guided by that simple proposition. I set that out in April in detail in my judgment it is neither necessary nor appropriate for me to do so again now. However, I do encourage the many commentators who wish to opine on this case to have regard to what I said in that April judgment and to what was said subsequent to it by the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights. My task has been to consider what is in Charlie’s best interests and it is that that I have done. The hospital trust correctly applied to the family division of the High Court for the exercise of the High Court’s independent judgment.

Fourthly, I want to mention, again, the subject of mediation. Almost all family proceedings are now subject to compulsory court led dispute resolution hearings. This applies in disputed money cases, private law children cases and in all cases involving the welfare of children who might be the subject of care proceedings. I recognise, of course, that negotiating issues such as the life or death of a child seems impossible and often will be. However, it is my clear view that mediation should be attempted in all cases such as this one even if all that it does is achieve a greater understanding by the parties of each other’s positions. Few users of the court system will be in a greater state of turmoil and grief than parents in the position that these parents have been in and anything which helps them to understand the process and the viewpoint of the other side, even if they profoundly disagree with it, would in my judgment be of benefit and I hope that some lessons can therefore be taken from this tragic case which it has been my duty to oversee.

Le Nozze di Figaro and the Sunset of Ancien Régime Legacy on Modern Legal Culture

The purpose of this paper is focused on the character of the Count of Almaviva as representative of the transition from the Ancien Régime to the Nouveau Régime. From the private law perspective, the Count exploits Figaro’s promise of marriage to Marcellina in the event of the breach of a debt incurred some time before. Despite his conflict of interest because he is the master, the Count tries to mislead the judgement of his subordinate, unsuccessfully, due to the parent-child relationship between Marcellina and Figaro themselves. However, he does not give up and the final double exchange of role keeps him in a ridicolous situation to obtain forgiveness from his wife, the Countess, quite a proto-feminist in this opera. From the public law perspective, the crisis of the figure of the Count of Almaviva clearly represents the decline of aristocracy itself. None of his subjects are afraid of him. For instance, Cherubino escapes the mandatory enrollment in the Count’s regiment by dressing up as a girl. This as not only of scenic value, but it could represent a crisis of social roles on the eve of the French Revolution. The Marriage of Figaro represents an indispensabile inspiration for historical and multidisciplinary reflections to analyze the paradigm shifts which occurred in the late XVII Century and the legacy they have left on today’s legal culture. Link

14 luglio

Il 14 luglio è sempre stato uno dei miei giorni preferiti. Una data che di per sé mi mette di buonumore, un giorno che ha cambiato la Storia, anche se poi quello che ne seguì fu spesso tragico, forse ineluttabile, certo niente fu più come prima. Però quest’anno non riesco a cancellare un velo di tristezza.

Ius soli e diritto di cittadinanza: uno sguardo a Francia, Canada e Stati Uniti

Pubblicato sul Quotidiano Giuridico il 5 luglio 2017

Negli Stati Uniti, la Corte Suprema ha recentemente deciso il caso Sessions v. Morales-Santana. La fattispecie riguarda la discriminazione nella trasmissione della cittadinanza da genitori non sposati, rispetto a quelli sposati, nel caso in cui il bambino sia nato all’estero. I genitori del ricorrente non erano coniugati quando egli era nato nel 1962 nella Repubblica Dominicana. Il padre era un cittadino americano, mentre non lo era la madre. Ai sensi della legge allora in vigore, il bambino avrebbe potuto acquisire la cittadinanza americana solamente se il padre avesse vissuto negli Stati Uniti per almeno dieci anni prima della sua nascita e se cinque di tali anni fossero stati successivi al quattordicesimo anno. Altresì, il ricorrente avrebbe potuto nascere cittadino americano se sua madre, invece che suo padre, fosse stata cittadina americana, sempre che la madre avesse trascorso almeno un anno negli Stati Uniti. Si registra, quindi, una discriminazione sul sesso e sulla circostanza relativa all’assenza del matrimonio tra i genitori nel trasmettere la cittadinanza ai figli, discriminazione definita dalla Corte Suprema “anacronistica”.
Il caso è importante, soprattutto alla luce delle politiche di verifica dei requisiti di residenza e di cittadinanza da parte del governo federale (iniziata antecedentemente alla Presidenza Trump). Infatti, il ricorrente, legalmente residente negli USA dal 1975, aveva resistito ad un provvedimento di espulsione conseguente ai suoi precedenti penali sostenendo di essere cittadino americano perché figlio di genitore americano. La Corte d’Appello del Secondo Circuito gli aveva riconosciuto la cittadinanza ritenendo applicabile al suo caso il principio secondo cui non dovesse esserci differenza, riguardo ai figli, se i genitori fossero sposati o meno. Ciò nonostante, le circostanze del caso concreto non sono state favorevoli al ricorrente, il quale non ha potuto godere dei benefici fattuali della sua battaglia giudiziaria. Infatti, per rientrare nella fattispecie di legge ai fini di avere la cittadinanza americana, suo padre avrebbe dovuto vivere negli Stati Uniti almeno 10 anni prima della sua nascita, dei quali 5 dopo i 14; mentre il genitore si era trasferito nella Repubblica Dominicana appena 20 giorni prima di compiere 19 anni (il requisito temporale venne ridotto dal Congresso a soli cinque anni a partire dal 1986).
In Canada, la Federal Court ha censurato il controverso Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act 2015, il quale era stato emanato ai fini di revocare la cittadinanza canadese a coloro che l’avessero ottenuta attraverso dichiarazioni mendaci. Nelle motivazioni, la Corte ha affermato che il procedimento amministrativo, senza udienze, predisposto da tale nuova normativa, viola il Bill of Rights canadese poiché priva gli interessati del diritto a venire ascoltati in un’udienza, i conformità ai principi del giusto processo.
In Francia, la Corte di Cassazione ha trattato il caso di una coppia di coniugi, lui di cittadinanza marocchina, lei francese. L’uomo ha richiesto di acquisire la cittadinanza francese per matrimonio, secondo i requisiti di legge. Tuttavia, il richiedente ha divorziato e successivamente risposato l’ex coniuge. Alla luce di ciò il marito è stato accusato di aver frodato la legge francese a causa della celerità con la quale si è risposato per la seconda volta. La frode sarebbe consistita nel falso mantenimento, almeno sotto un profilo soggettivo, della comunione di vita garantita dal matrimonio.
Secondo i giudici supremi francesi, tale motivazione non è condivisibile né rilevante in quanto da un lato, risulta sufficiente intraprendere una relazione adulterina durante il matrimonio per far cessare la comunione di vita; dall’altro lato, la circostanza della celerità del nuovo matrimonio tra gli ex coniugi non è rilevante, poiché chiunque può sposarsi con un’altra persona ovvero con la medesima, tre mesi dopo aver ottenuto il divorzio. La decisione della corte inferiore è quindi stata cassata dai giudici parigini per aver violato gli artt. 21-2, 26-4 e 147 del Code civil.