French government takes aim at covid “conspiracy theorists” and complementary and alternative medicine in draft bill to combat sects

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French government takes aim at covid “conspiracy theorists” and complementary and alternative medicine in draft bill to combat sects

In mid-November, the French Senate reviewed a draft law that aims to crush dissent using hefty fines of up to EUR 15,000 and threat of jail time.  Anyone daring to criticise medical treatments could fall foul of this law.  Considering the “covid vaccines are safe and effective” false narrative propagated by the government, this law is nothing short of outrageous.

The French Parliament is made up of two chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate.  Bills are examined by both Houses of Parliament. Because both houses may amend the bill, it may take several readings to reach an agreement between the National Assembly and the Senate.

The Secretary of State for Citizenship and the City, Sabrina Agresti-Roubache, presented a bill to the Senate aimed at strengthening the existing legislative arsenal to combat sects. At the top of the draft legislation are the words:

BILL

(fast-track procedure)

aimed at strengthening the fight against sectarian excesses [Their emphasis].Fight against sectarian excesses, Bills tabled for 15 November, Senate

The bill is aimed at strengthening the fight against sectarian excesses specifically in health. On announcing a renewal of their partnership with the national council of physicians, Conseil Ordre Des Médecins (“CNOM”), the Inter-ministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses (“MIVILUDES”) said:

Given the public’s enthusiasm for therapeutic practices that are not scientifically validated, the search for well-being and personal development, and due to the rise of training courses awarding diplomas not recognised by the State, patients may find themselves abused or exposed to therapeutic abuses, particularly sectarian ones.Sectarian excesses in health: MIVILUDES and CNOM renew their partnership, MIVILUDES, 29 September 2023

In the Larousse, “sectarian” is defined as “a follower of a religious or philosophical doctrine, and, in particular, a member of a sect, of a dissident faction of a religion”.

For MIVILUDES, “it is a misuse of freedom of thought, opinion or religion that undermines public order, laws or regulations, fundamental rights, security or the integrity of persons.”

Sectarian abuses or “excesses” have been on the rise in recent years, since the rise of social media but especially during the covid crisis.  The number of reports exploded in 2021 due to “conspiracy theories and alternative medicine.”

French information website Actu.fr noted criteria that characterise the risk of sectarian excesses:

  • mental destabilisation;
  • the exorbitant nature of the financial requirements;
  • breaking with the original environment;
  • the existence of attacks on physical integrity;
  • the recruitment of children;
  • anti-social discourse;
  • disturbances of public order;
  • the importance of legal troubles;
  • the possible diversion of traditional economic circuits; and,
  • attempts to infiltrate the authorities.

It should be noted that a single criterion “is not sufficient to establish the existence of a sectarian excess and all criteria do not have the same value. However, the first criterion (mental destabilisation) is always present in cases of sectarian excesses,” MIVILUDES said.

On its website, MIVILUDES has a non-exhaustive list of other characteristics that can serve as “alert signals,” such as:

  • the adoption of a language specific to the group;
  • loss of critical thinking;
  • the obligation to buy or sell certain equipment or services as an unavoidable condition of belonging to the group; and,
  • disruption of the normal functioning of public services.

The new draft bill to combat these “sectarians” provides for two new offences.  An article published by L’Express summarised the five Articles contained in the draft bill and noted (French to English using Google translate):

Article 4 [ ] creates a new crime from provocation to the abandonment or to the abstention of care or to the adoption of [a] practice of which it is manifest that will expose the person targeted to a serious or immediate risk for his health can be punished with one year of imprisonment and 15,000 euros of fine.

This is enough to respond to the many cases where figures of conspiracy and various alternative therapies suggest, for example, to abandon cancer treatments.Sectarian excesses in health: the government’s new legislative arsenal, L’Express, 15 November 2023

The wording taken from the draft bill states (French to English using Google translate):

Article 4

1. Provocation to abandon or abstain from therapeutic or prophylactic medical treatment shall be punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of EUR 15,000, where such abandonment or abstention is presented as beneficial to the health of the persons concerned, even though it is, in the current state of medical knowledge, manifestly likely to result in a therapeutic or prophylactic medical treatment for them, in view of the pathology from which they are suffering, serious consequences for their physical or mental health.

2. The same penalties shall apply to incitement to adopt practices presented as having a therapeutic or prophylactic purpose for the persons concerned when, in the current state of medical knowledge, it is clear that such practices expose them to an immediate risk of death or injury likely to result in mutilation or permanent disability.

3. Where the provocation provided for in the first two paragraphs has been acted upon, the penalties shall be increased to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 45,000.

4. Where such offences are committed by means of the written or broadcast press, the special provisions of the laws governing such matters shall apply as regards the determination of the persons responsible.Fight against sectarian excesses, Bills tabled for 15 November, Senate

The key words are according to “current medical knowledge.”  This, basically, can mean anything – it just depends on what the “experts” say it means at the time.

Although the bill was presented to the Senate on 15 November, no timetable has been set for the examination of the law in the National Assembly.

Featured image: Sabrina Agresti Roubache, Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior and Overseas, in charge of Citizenship and the City.  Source: French Government