FIGAROVOX/CHRONICLE – After the death of former Minister of Justice Robert Badinter, the lawyer praises the courage and commitment of this man, despite their divergent visions of Justice.
Gilles-William Goldnadel is a lawyer and essayist. Every week, he deciphers the news for FigaroVox. He has just published War diary. It is the West that we are assassinating (Fayard).
Robert Badinter inspired in me a brotherly admiration and a brotherly recognition. But the tribute that I want to pay him requires, to be sincere, that I also write here why his vision of Justice was not mine.
Let’s start with the colleague. After the recent death of Georges Kiejman, the death of Robert Badinter permanently leaves the Bar orphaned. His voice, his stature, his posture, the economy of his effects, the preference for the argumentation of reason and law over affect… Absolutely that Badinter was the worthy successor of the great Henry Torres of whom he was the collaborater. I would like to associate with this tribute the great Jean-Denis Bredin, precisely his associate, editor of a monumental work on the Dreyfus Affair which says a lot about the finesse of its author, his refusal of simplism and his acceptance of the complexity.
Let’s continue with fraternity. I’m not talking about blood, but weapons and tears. His family, like mine, was from Kishinev. From this Bessarabia which became Moldova. His father and many of his people, like mine, ended up in ashes before the usual time. The fight against the mortal hatred of our people was, each in their place and at their own level, one of our common battles.
But being left-wing, Badinter was never extreme. Out of love for France, he never confused Vichy with it. Out of love for Israel, he insisted on confusing hateful anti-Semitism with venomous far-left anti-Zionism. We will thus understand what attaches me to him and which is called recognition.
There remains the fundamental as well as fraternal divergence on the vision of Justice. Certainly, there was the abolition of what made homosexuality an aggravating criminal circumstance. Thanks be to him. There was an improvement in the conditions of incarceration of prisoners. I am willing to bet that a Badinter, today Place Vendôme, would not have tolerated the commitment to build a sufficient number of prisons to house prisoners in decent conditions being trampled under foot. There was also better consideration of the right of victims of crimes and offenses to be compensated. Here again, grace must be given to him without hesitation. But there is the rest. And which is contained in this single word which separates us, and which is called security. It seemed like a bad word to him. For me, the word is beautiful.
In reality, what fundamentally separates me from Robert Badinter’s judicial conception is the place of the victim and his murderer.
Let’s start with the death penalty which was the fight of his life. Without being opposed to its suppression, I have always written that it had not brought France from the shadows to the light. Above all, because there was what I do not hesitate to call bluntly, deception on the merchandise sold. One of the main selling points of abolitionists was to argue that lifelong incarceration of criminals was even more formidable – and therefore a deterrent – than death at short notice. And this argument was perfectly tenable. Reason why, an article 2, under the famous first decreeing the abolition, had been voted, promising in a deliberately abstruse manner that an alternative penalty to capital punishment would be provided.
This false promise was therefore not kept. Quite the contrary, not only does there not exist a real life prison sentence, but the same people who had served it to us the day before to sell us abolition, explained to us the next morning that prison for life was inhumane, both for the prisoners, and for their guards… So much so that today, no sufficiently dissuasive sentence has replaced the death penalty and the worst murderer sentenced to life knows although he will not end it in the depths of a dungeon. This is one of the reasons which have often made me write with humor that, never more than today, the death penalty still existed in the streets of France. But only for the innocent and without recourse to a court decision…
In reality, what fundamentally separates me from Robert Badinter’s judicial conception is the place of the victim and his murderer. The second was his primary concern. But, be careful, for noble reasons. Once again, the great man of the humanist left was not an extremist. The legitimate concern to give him the means to defend himself fairly. The concern to punish him and treat him in a humane manner, which he applied with humanity, even to free Maurice Papon who did not inspire him with tender feelings. There lived his greatness.
But I come to maintain, and here remains our fundamental divergence, that this noble concern will have made him forget that of the security of our fellow citizens. By the severity of the deterrent or prophylactic incarceration sentence or by the means of arresting the criminal, at the very moment when this was becoming urgent, mainly due to the irresistible progression of immigration.
Robert Badinter had hated the Peyrefitte law. He was vehemently opposed to the Perben law and, precisely, to all its provisions concerned with the security of the French, even if it means being more severe towards the offender. It must be said that at the time he was in charge, the word “security” did not have good press. Woe to those who used it. When with my friend, the magistrate Georges Fenech, and a few other professionals we created the “Right to Security” association, we did not have much success in editorial offices and society salons.
To summarize what Robert Badinter’s action inspired in me, I will be allowed to quote the lines taken from my work The Martyrocrats and subtitled “Drifts and impostures of victim ideology” published by Plon in 2004:
“Finally, Badinter and Vergés – who hate each other – will have embodied, in their own way, and with their talent, the two faces of the French bar… Robert Badinter, marked by the Shoah, resolutely Jewish, but sometimes describing himself as a Christian of left… is the happy inventor of the contemptuous word “secure”. The designer of the “lepenization of minds” applied to all those who, in the democratic camp, wanted to stem the exponential growth of insecurity, considered as a… security fantasy…
In a recent interview (Le Monde, January 28, 2004), he states: “In current political discourse, the term security is magnified. It is proclaimed that it is the first of freedoms. We thus maintain confusion because what is enshrined in the Declarations of Human Rights is security, that is to say the assurance, for the citizen, that the power of the State will not be undermined. ‘not exert on him in an arbitrary and excessive manner’. Then there he is, berating the left for its passivity: “We are far from the reactions that Alain Peyrefitte’s Security and Freedom project once triggered! Today there is indifference. Security is integrated as a primary requirement for policies such that we can hardly oppose it…”
To put it another way, I would dream of reconciling Badinter and Garaud.
“Not a word, not a reflection on the challenge of Islamist terrorism or the meteoric progression of urban delinquency during the angelic years, marked with his elegant imprint not of a martyrocrat but of an aristocrat. It is a sign of the times to note that the most prestigious and popular lawyer that remains, will have been made extremely famous, not for having saved the head of an innocent, but that of an assassin.
To put it bluntly, within the French Bar, I fear being in the minority. Not drawing any more, nor…