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French Court of Appeal Overturns Ban and Grants Access to Israeli Arms Delegations to EUROSATORY
23، Jun 2024

In a decision handed down on June 18, the Paris Court of Appeal overturned the decision taken by the Bobigny court on June 14, which had banned the entry of Israeli delegations and Israeli arms subsidiaries into the EUROSATORY arms fair.

Al-Haq and its partner organisations ASER (Action sécurité éthique républicaines), AFPS (Association France Palestine Solidarité) had filed an interim injunction against COGES, the organiser of the EUROSATORY arms fair, to take effective measures to prevent Israeli arms companies and their subsidiaries from selling their technologies in France at a time when the Israeli army is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Gaza. This procedure was supported by several collectives, including Stop Arming Israel France and Urgence Palestine.

On May 31, the French government instructed COGES to stop admitting Israeli arms companies to the EUROSATORY arms show. Accordingly, COGES cancelled their stands but took no steps to prohibit delegations from these companies and their subsidiaries from entering the EUROSATORY and benefiting from the reception capacities.

It was this inconsistency that the Bobigny court corrected, ordering COGES to prohibit delegations from Israeli arms companies from entering the EUROSATORY, and any company present on the stand to welcome them. COGES implemented the decision and reported having deactivated 850 entry badges.

The Court of Appeal overturned this decision, challenging the power of a judge to interpret an act of government in the light of applicable international law in order to prescribe measures likely to give it full effect. This invocation of acts of government, which de facto prohibits the courts from addressing France's compliance with its international commitments in terms of human rights and arms trade, is being contested by the petitioning associations, who are considering all avenues of appeal.

During the hearing before the Court of Appeal, the opposing parties argued that they had been discriminated against. Also on 18 June, a separate challenge was lodged in the Paris Commercial Court against the discriminatory nature of the government ban against Israeli arms companies, which held that the ban was discriminatory.

Our organisations stress that in terms of arms trade, it is a common practice to assess the behaviour of a State. Furthermore, the measures taken by the COGES following the Bobigny court ruling were not linked to the nationality of the visitors to the show, but to their function in relation to Israeli arms companies.

The responsibility of the French executive is particularly incurred in this situation. On Sunday, June 16, for example, the Director General of Armaments sent a letter to the COGES, stating that the government was not asking him to take any action other than to remove the stands of Israeli arms companies.

The petitioning associations and collectives are calling on the President of France, to ensure French compliance with international law responsibilities in the face of ongoing genocide. It is inconsistent to take a symbolically powerful measure banning the stands of Israeli arms companies, and "at the same time", to then authorize the same delegates related to those companies to attend en masse at the EUROSATORY, which is essentially circumventing the executives ban.

More than ever, we need to mobilize against the presence at the EUROSATORY of arms companies that are actively contributing to the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

Coalition associations/collectives:

The summons to the Bobigny court has been filed by:

This action was born out of the work of a coalition of some twenty collectives, lawyers, jurists and non-jurists coordinated within a collaborative workspace that gives access to legal strategy to all, including:

The coalition is represented by lawyers Dominique Cochain and Matteo Bonaglia:

Some fifty organizations and collectives have also lent their support to this action, right from its first stage.

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