Last year (20th January 2011), two civil servants of Bercy (the French Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs), Patrice Guyot and Jean-Philippe Müller, ordered Act Up-Paris to remove a press release on the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) from its website in which they were quoted. In this press statement, Act Up had stated that the negotiators were ‘responsible for the denial of democracy.’ The negotiators threatened to sue Act Up-Paris and take the author of the press release or any accomplice of the libel to court. We refused to give in to their threat and did not hear anything from them since then.
A year later, last Monday (13th February 2012), Act Up-Paris received a legal requisition issued by the Brigade on curbing against criminality towards the people of Paris, acting on a “letter rogatory” from an investigating magistrate from the county court of Paris, within the scope of a complaint against person for libel. Patrice Guyot and Jean-Phillipe Müller did file a complaint. While we are aware of the slowness of the law, we cannot help but notice that this letter rogatory has reached us after a year of silence from the court and the plaintiffs, at a time when huge mobilization against ACTA is taking place throughout the world.
Act Up-Paris has been campaigning for more than two years on the dangers of ACTA and of its consequences for access to medicines in developing countries. This agreement has indeed been negotiated in total secrecy by the European Commission and key developed countries, with support from only a few developing countries. It is of great concern that those negotiating ACTA are bypassing all the competent global institutions where negotiations are held transparently (WHO, WTO, etc.). At the Ministry of Economics and Finances, the unit DGTrésor (ex DFTPE) has been in charge of following the ACTA negotiations closely and working closely with the European Commission which is also negotiating FTAs with developing countries.
ACTA comes from Bercy with the same intention that is being followed for the Free Trade Agreements being negotiated with several developing countries including India. It is all about reinforcing the monopolies of the patent holders and to restrict competition by generics. In order to please the shareholders of the industries, they are jeopardizing the access to treatment for millions of people in developing countries.
While HIV, tuberculosis and malaria kill millions of people each year, while ACTA still has to be ratified by the European Parliament and while the first rapporteur of the text just resigned denouncing this as farce of transparency and democracy, this complaint against Act Up-Paris will provide us with the opportunity to point out the responsibilities of politicians and high level civil servants who took part in writing these agreements.
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