International Federation for Human Rights

Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme - History


-1980-1986, France: in 1980, the LDH reviews the second article of its Constitution in order to widen its field of action and fight against racial discrimination. As soon as 1974, the organisation had started to promote foreigners’ vote in local elections, and defend illegal immigrants. Nationalist circles become hostile to the LDH, and attempt a terrorist attack on its president, Henri Noguères, in September 1980. However, the election of François Mitterrand as the French president in May 1981 makes the organisation more determined to act. The LDH, which has called on people to vote for the Socialist Party, has sixteen leaguers in Pierre Mauroy’s government. Daniel Mayer becomes the president of the French constitutional court; Robert Badinter, the minister of Justice, so that he stops his activities as a LDH’s barrister. The LDH, which had published a “Black Book” on the breach of human rights during the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1974-1981), is less critical with François Mitterrand. It is true that in July 1984, one of its members, Pierre Joxe, becomes the minister of Home Affairs in the government of Laurent Fabius, in order to deal with illegal immigration. In April 1985, President François Mitterrand is the guest of honour of the 65th congress of the LDH, where he talks about the right of the foreigners to vote. Personal links explain such an affinity between the organisation and the Elysee. A founder of the Union of the Socialist Left in 1957, the president of the LDH since 1984, Yves Jouffa, is close to Robert Badinter; as a barrister, he defended Messali Hadj’s Algerian nationalists, Trotskyst members of the “Jeunesses communistes révolutionnaires”, as well as Corsican and Kanak supporters of independence. The LDH gets critical again only when the right-wing comes back to power after the 1986 parliamentary elections. Even if there are no organic links with any party, the politicization of the LDH, recruiting almost exclusively in the left, refusing candidacies from right-wing people, and giving vote instructions, raises internal protests. Among the thematic commissions of the LDH, one deals with the far-right; there is nothing of the kind for the far-left.
-1981, Poland: the French LDH condemns the repression of trade unions by the military junta of General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
-From 1982, Colombia: the FIDH sends a first mission to investigate on paramilitary groups. During the civil war, the Federation then focuses its activities on the Colombian state, considered to be “the main cause of violence”, as well as militias, drug cartels, and military aid from the United States. Local NGOs also follow this approach and claim that paramilitary groups are responsible for most of human rights violations —three quarter of recorded events in 1999 for instance. In a statement dated 7th May 2003, the FIDH condemns the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas, who have just executed hostages like the governor of Medellin and a former minister of Defence. But in general, the Federation never tries to investigate on abuses by the rebels.
-1984, China: the French LDH condemns human rights violations in Communist China. But like the FIDH, it does not attempt any investigation there.
-From 1985, Algeria: a lawyer, Ali Yaya Abdennour, launches the LADDH (Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights) in June 1985. But the government refuses to recognize the organisation and jails one of its founder, psychiatrist Saïd Sadi, from August 1985 until April 1987. During the 1990s, the end of the one-party system does not help either, as the fighting between the army and Islamic fundamentalist groups torn the country apart. Human Rights activists are still harassed when the rebellion cools down. After publishing an investigation on local corruption, Hafnaoui Ghoul, a journalist who represents the LADDH at Djelfa in the South, is indicted with seventeen similar charges by different institutions. Arrested on the 24th of May 2004, he is condemned to two, then three months of jail, and starts a hunger strike on the 10th of August. Linked to the legal and secular opposition, the LADDH now protests officially against the regime. After the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, for instance, it coordinates a platform for change and democracy and organises demonstrations in February 2011 with the RCD (Rassemblement pour la culture et la démocratie), a Kabylian party.
-15th of March 1987, France: along with CIMADE, left-wing trade unions, the communist, socialist and green parties, as well as the revolutionary communist league, the LDH marches in Paris against the project of Charles Pasqua, the minister of Home Affairs in Jacques Chirac’s government, to reform the nationality code. On the 3rd of December 1983, the League had also taken part in a big demonstration for equality and against racism organised by the French-Arab movement (the “Beurs”). Besides, it hosted SOS Racism’s inaugural press conference on the 22nd of November 1984. Yet the League doesn’t approve radical associations such as the FASTI (Fédération des associations de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés) or the GISTI (Groupement d’information et de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés), which support a total opening of the borders and freedom of settlement for foreigners. Like CIMADE, the LDH only fights for the migrants’ rights of circulation. But, according to Antoine Spire and Cédric Porin, it blames everything on the colonial history of France and looses any sense of criticism: “instead of helping a social movement, it becomes part of it”.
-July 1988, Haiti: the FIDH sends a mission to inquire into the situation of the Haitian league for human rights whose general secretary has just been assassinated.