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French weekly magazines review

The major story is a grave judicial error which could see the potential release of dozens of inmates from French prisons because of how the statute of limitations has been applied. 


The statute of limitations sets out the time limit after a crime has been committed under which an offender can still be punished.

in December 2004, the then justice minister Dominique Perben signed a decree stating that the justice ministry, as well as sentencing judges, could decide whether a suspected criminal could still be imprisoned, even if the normal time limit had expired. The decree also outlined conditions under which the statute of limitations could be amended.

However, the satirical and investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchainé reports that any change to the conditions can only be made by a law, not by a decree.

The paper said the justice ministry noticed the mistake in June 2012 and "quietly" changed the law, effectively making the decree void. This, therefore, raises questions as to how many prisoners have been affected by the incorrect application of this law between 2004 and 2012.

Following the discovery of the judicial hiccup, the ministry ordered tribunals across the country to re-examine more than 3,000 cases. That, according to Le Canard, could lead to the release of over 200 inmates, an outcome that is causing panic at the justice ministry.

The massive screw-up was shown to justice minister Christiane Taubira last week as she struggled to avert a storm caused by a judge who allowed three men sentenced to light prison terms to walk free because of overcrowding at the local prison. Right-wing hawks like opposition UMP lawmakers Eric Ciotti and Christian Estrosi labelled the case as the clearest sign of the Socialists' softness on crime.

Le Figaro Magazine believes that the case of the two convicts has further discredited the judiciary and is sapping the morale of the police who risk their lives to arrest criminals.

Le Point reports that Interior Minister Manuel Valls is outrage by the case and wasted no time to support the police officer who took up the case. The dispute has taken “the lipstick off the entente cordiale” exhibited up till now by the justice and interior ministers.

Official statistics quoted by Le Point say there are 68,569 inmates crammed into 57,325 prison cells across the country, while 80,000 to 100,000 jail terms remain unexecuted, a situation the weekly describes as untenable.

Le Nouvel Observateur takes up what it calls a “strange agitation” going on in France over the Islamic veil after university presidents distanced themselves from the National Integration Council’s proposal to ban the scarf from university classrooms. The left-leaning weekly accuses Le Figaro newspaper, which published an article on the report, of confusing public opinion.

Le Point presents the new lives of French citizens who changed professions during times of economic uncertainty. It explains that 80 percent of French workers dream of making the great leap, branded as “professional bifurcation”.

Le Point
finds that some people were driven by the passion of becoming their own boss, but the vast majority opting for a fresh start were looking for ways to beat the stress that comes with doing the same job, seemingly forever.

People who are looking to make the great leap should turn to the story of the week in L’Express: the mad rush to conquer the universe. It tells the captivating story of how humans are preparing to send a manned mission to Mars by 2030. It explores the potential of space tourism and counts the billionaires who are lining up to win the first space craft tickets.

Still on space, Le Figaro Magazine says more and more scientists are getting involved in the search for a planet just like Earth, many excited by the idea of meeting any potential extraterrestrials living there.

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