French justice has canceled the legal approval which allowed the Anticor association to intervene in court in cases of the fight against corruption. Good news for holders of ill-gotten gains, especially in Africa.
It was in June 2022. Alongside Sherpa, the NGO Anticor announced that it would be a civil party in the Bolloré case, accused of corruption in Togo. From now on, it seems difficult for Anticor to go to court for such cases: the administrative court of Paris annulled, this Friday, the judicial approval which until now allowed the Anticor association to intervene in court in anti-corruption cases.
A real blow for the leaders of Anticor, who fear “very negative impacts” on the political and financial affairs that the association is trying to bring to light. But a nice helping hand for the thieves — political leaders and businessmen — of Africa. Other NGOs, like Transparency International or Sherpa, may tremble: the French State will not help them to sue holders of ill-gotten gains.
In reality, the decision of the administrative court of Paris is the logical continuation of a political campaign which aims to exclude NGOs from the judicial circuit. Since 2008, recalled four years ago Libération, the prosecution has multiplied the obstacles against the associations "in order to stifle legal actions harmful to the serenity of Françafrique".
An attack on democracy
In 2019, Transparency International and Sherpa had, after a long legal ordeal, been able to be present at the Obiang trial, to which they had presented themselves as civil parties. At the time, justice had found the parade to dismiss NGOs, ensuring that they had not suffered prejudice in cases of ill-gotten gains. But in 2010, the Court of Cassation had affirmed that Transparency International had suffered "direct and personal prejudice" in the case of ill-gotten gains. Good news for all anti-corruption NGOs.
If Anticor therefore relied on this decision of the Court of Cassation, it will finally have to resolve to no longer bring a civil action. Without judicial approval, Anticor can no longer initiate proceedings, that is to say no longer file a complaint with a civil action. The consequences are significant: if it is no longer a civil party, the NGO will no longer be able to access the files, nor send documents or requests for the hearing of witnesses to the investigating judge.
Anticor will renew its application for judicial approval. On Twitter, the NGO believes that “this cancellation constitutes a serious attack on democracy, as well as on freedoms of association”. If two other associations have this same approval, Sherpa and Transparency International, it is difficult to know what sauce they will also be eaten. Françafrique still has a bright future ahead of it.