Prohibition of showing a person hindered

Can we show a person hindered? With the so-called case DSK and the maid This subject has been brought to the forefront of the media scene ...

I propose a little overview to highlight this topic.

The law provides ...

TheArticle 35ter of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press provides:

Where it is made without the consent of the person concerned, the dissemination, by whatever means and in whatever medium, of the image of an identified or identifiable person implicated on the occasion criminal proceedings but not having been the subject of a judgment of conviction and showing up, either that this person is wearing handcuffs or shacklesor that she is placed in pre-trial detention, is punishable by a fine of € 15,000.

So it's clear: It's forbidden to show a person hindered if she has not yet been sentenced.

This is why our police always put hoods or sweaters on the heads of the accused. So no picture of them can be broadcast.

Photo of an arrest in the SNCF-Tarnac case (Crédit AFP / Thierry Zoccolan)

Finally, it's also because of theArticle 83 of the Code of Criminal Procedure :

No one shall be subjected to handcuffs or restraints unless he is considered to be dangerous to others or to himself or to attempt to abscond.

In these two hypotheses, all necessary measures must be taken, under conditions compatible with the security requirements, to prevent a handcuffed or shackled person from being photographed or subject to audiovisual recording.

The media do ...

Even if the French media are vigilant enough to this kind of diffusion, the media pressure can push them to diffuse certain images "not-blurred" showing a person hindered. For example (note that I blurred the face):

Photo of an arrest in a rape case in the United States (AFP Jewel Samad)

This photo, where we see Dominique Strauss-Kahn visibly hindered, caused an uproar in public opinion.

The CSA even called to order the French media by calling them to a certain restraint:

The Council recalls in particular that the law of 15 June 2000 reinforcing the protection of the presumption of innocence and the rights of victims punishes by fine the dissemination, in any medium, of an image that appears to be cuffed or hindered by a person, whatever it is, which has not been the subject of a conviction.

Citizens are indignant ... but selectively!

But for others, we are (unfortunately) much more tolerant with this presumption of innocence.

Youssou Fofana was arrested on 4 March 2006 in Ivory Coast after torturing and killing a person of Jewish faith (Ilan Halimi).

Despite the violence of these acts, we can question this picture that was taken BEFORE his conviction in France. We can not deny that the shackles are clearly visible.

Photo of the arrest of Youssou FOFANA (Credit REUTERS / Luc Gnago)

PS: I also blurred his face, but for once, it was not necessary since he is doomed ... but hey!

Attention, I'm not defending Youssou Fofana, but I wonder about our " intellectual flexibility With fundamental freedoms and the presumption of innocence. Two weights, two measures ?



  1. Good morning, thank you for your article. Small shell simply at the level of article 803 (which becomes 83 in the article).

  2. & #8212; Reading again it's true it has nothing to do there. I reacted hot on the situation of a parano who even telephoned. to the conciliator (whom I had seized in April) reproaching me for cutting my hedge without having warned him, which more on my side. I was referring to the right, if any, to intimacy: to be photographed at home, in one's property, at the touching end of the camera lens, to provoke by physical attitudes (close positioning, gaze at 2 m barely, smiles & #8230;).
    -Best regards.

  3. & #8211; Following a neighborhood dispute over a common private hedge yesterday, 26.09.2011 I was photographed while I was maintaining it, on my side, in my property. It lasted about 10/15 minutes the report had to be interesting. Not for me because I saw the goal in my direction several times, I was very angry at this provocation, at times the person was 2 meters from me. I DO NOT FIND ME IN THE INTEGRITY WITH THE INTEGRITY OF A PERSON OF YOUR COMMENTS, WHILE I WRITE.

  4. If I understand correctly, it would be forbidden to broadcast images / names of people who are being judged?
    Yet the courts accept photographers and the public, is not it contradictory?
    Moreover, in a case as international as the example cited, the law applies only to the French media? leaving all the other media to disclose this information?

    Surprisingly, we are talking here exclusively about images, making no mention of the texts ... I admit to astonishing myself of such unequal treatment in the media of communication

    • What is forbidden are the images!
      In my opinion, the idea of the legislator was to prevent citizens from recognizing a simple quidam in the street after seeing him handcuffed on television (The case of DSK remains a minor case: he is known just by his name and even when we blur his face, we recognize him anyway 🙂)
      So mentioning the name is indeed not forbidden.

      Regarding the presence of photographers in the courts, it is forbidden to photograph after the start of the hearing (as filming elsewhere): this is also why the judicial sketches are legion (Article 308 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
      Moreover, and in any event, the accused are not handcuffed or otherwise obstructed during the hearing (Article D283-4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

      • But spreading sketches are also logically forbidden right?
        As long as the accused is not convicted at least ...

        I admit that the distinction between image and text is fairly well justified in your answer. Indeed the notion that you put forward makes sense in the case of a person unknown to the public.

        Another digression:
        With regard to restraints / handcuffs OR pre-trial detention:
        it seems to me (it is a prejudice of which I am not sure) that in a court, DSK must be framed policeman and even if it is not handcuffed, the images could be explicit.
        Also in his residence or DSK is assigned, it could be related to remand? so no photo broadcast in France again?

        Last digression (promised):
        Is there a law to protect the image of the accused's family (ie: the daughter of DSK ...)?

    • This prohibition applies to all broadcasts in France ... Of course, for Internet broadcasts, it is often difficult to force their author to stop ... But the course on international law will be for a future article 🙂

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