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50 people from civil society are under police protection

“A mobile prison”: this is how Zineb El Rhazoui described his life under police protection in World. The former Charlie Hebdo journalist has been protected by state services since the 2015 attacks. The essayist is therefore one of the few members of civil society under police protection. She is not the only one: other personalities such as Professor Didier Lemaire or journalist Ophélie Meunier have been placed under protection, after receiving threats.

In a question to the government, the deputy Les Républicains de la Loire Dino Cinieri* wanted to know the exact number of people benefiting from this protection “year by year since 2012”, as well as “the cost (…) for public finances ” of the device. In its response, the Ministry of the Interior first recalled the functioning of the Protection Service (SDLP), created in 2013, and of which 700 of the 1,400 agents are dedicated to the protection of people.

50 people protected

If the authority is intended to protect the “highest political and public figures” as can be read on its website, the government explains that since the 2015 attacks, “the protection of personalities from ‘civil society’ has taken an increasing part in the overall volume of protected personalities”. Thus, as of July 31, 2021, 50 personalities from civil society were under police protection. A group essentially composed of “magistrates, journalists, religious and community representatives as well as particularly threatened personalities”.

In detail, the system provides at least one “safety partner” with the person concerned. In case of serious danger, four other security officers can complete the escort. And with regard to the cost of the measures, the government remained rather vague, without giving the amounts of the expenses incurred by the travel of security officers on a mission to protect people from civil society, or even payroll credits or overtime generated by these missions.

And to recall that if the total operating budget of the SDLP was 6.5 million euros, “the cost of protecting people [n’était] not particularly ‘individualised’ within this envelope”. Nevertheless, The Obs advance the sum of 280,000 euros for one year of police protection, according to figures which would have been provided by the Ministry of the Interior to parliamentarians.

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