Subsidies to SOS Méditerranée: the Council of State validates financial support for humanitarian rescue action at sea

Subsidies to SOS Méditerranée: the Council of State validates financial support for humanitarian rescue action at sea

L’association sauve la vie des réfugiés naufragés en mer Méditerranée. Patrick PAYRE

The court validated the contested subsidies granted by the Department of Hérault and the City of Paris. But rebutted that of Montpellier town hall, too imprecise.

In a decision rendered this Monday, May 13, the Council of State validated the granting, by local authorities, under conditions, of subsidies for humanitarian action.

And more precisely, the administrative jurisdiction ruled on the aid voted for SOS Méditerranée, the NGO which saves refugees at sea, in 2020, by the municipal council of Paris (100,000,000 euros), the city of Montpellier (15,000,000 euros), and the Department of Hérault (20,000 euros). 000 €).

Two have been definitively validated, only that of Montpellier is rejected because it is too imprecise.

In these three cases, the elected representatives of the National Rally had contested these subsidies which "would violate the neutrality of the public service" or which would be the manifestation of a "political and ideological support". In March 2023, the administrative court of appeal of Toulouse ruled in favor of the two Hérault communities while that of Paris had annulled the deliberation of the municipal council.

In a press release dated May 13, the Council of State recalls that"the law allows local authorities to support any international humanitarian aid action which respects France's international commitments and does not interfere with the international policy conducted by the State.’ quot;

"Communities must ensure that their grants only finance humanitarian activities"

Then, he specifies that "local authorities cannot, however, take sides in a conflict of a political nature. They must always ensure that their grants only finance humanitarian activities.

The Council therefore judges that the rescue activity of SOS Méditerranée is humanitarian and not political.

"This decision is a relief and demonstrates that our humanitarian action of rescue at sea which is formally part of international maritime law. This is a decision which should put an end to the real legal harassment that SOS Méditionranée  has suffered for many years." reacts the director and founder of the NGO Sophie Beau.

The only downside is the cancellation of the subsidy from the municipality of Montpellier: because the deliberation does not specify the destination of this subsidy.

"The destabilization attempt therefore fails"

"If the situation in Montpellier is an exception, it is only for purely formal reasons linked to the drafting of the agreement which can easily be corrected&quot ;, comments Me Patrice Spinosi, the lawyer for SOS Méditerranée.

"The attempt at contentious destabilization initiated by the political adversaries of the humanitarian action of the associations therefore fails."

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