On April 19, 2005 France Moulin, who was defending a client accused of money laundering in connection with drug trafficking, was imprisoned under new legislation enacted March 9, 2004 (Perben II legislation – named for the Minister of Justice serving at the time). Pursuant to this new legislation, Ms. Moulin was charged with divulging information to a friend of her client. Under Perben II, any lawyer suspected of revealing information, during the preliminary investigation, to parties who may be charged as co-defendants or accomplices may face charges and up to five years in prison if convicted. Ms. Moulin is the first person to be charged under this new legislation.
The Perben II legislation has faced much criticism from lawyers groups in France, and abroad, who view the addition to the penal code to be an “attack on the rights of the defence” and have requested Ms. Moulin be released and the legislation be revised. Thierry Carrère, the head of the Toulouse Lawyers Association, called on lawyers throughout France to strike on April 28, 2005 in protest of the charges against Ms. Moulin, spawning protests in several towns across France.
The Minister of Justice met with members of several lawyers groups on May 3, 2005 to discuss Ms. Moulin’s situation and the Perben II legislation. The Orleans’ Court of Appeal has denied a motion for Ms. Moulin’s release.
LRWC is gravely concerned by the effects of Perben II on the independence of defence council and their ability to vigorously defend clients. As such, LRWC has written the French government and joined lawyers’ groups from around the world in requesting the charges against Ms. Moulin be dropped and that the Perben II legislation be revised.
Letter Written May 6, 2005 by Charles B. Davison
Update: It has been reported that Ms. Moulin was released on May 12, 2005 by order of Patrick Gachon, who is in responsible for incarcerations in Orleans, where Ms. Moulin was being held. However, the charges against Ms. Moulin have not been dropped.