Shooting galleries to be set up for drug addicts in Paris

The French Prime Minister has given the go-ahead for the creation of spaces for 'shooting galleries' for drug addicts in Paris in an attempt to tackle the capital's problem with crack and heroin users.

Shooting galleries to be set up for drug addicts in Paris
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to create four new salles de shoot (shooting galleries) in the city where addicts can go  to take drugs, and also access help if they want to.

A law from 2016 authorises the creation of salles de consommation à moindre risque or SCMR (low-risk consumption rooms), to give them their proper name, but so far just two have been set up – one in Paris and one in Strasbourg.

Hidalgo wants to extend the programme to tackle the long-standing problem of crack consumption in Paris, particularly around the Stalingrad area in the north of the city, which has seen locals protesting over addicts smoking crack and in some cases living in their local streets and parks.

Her plan has not met with universal approval, however, particularly from residents in the 20th arrondissement, where the proposed gallery is close to a school.

Angry parents staged a march to the mairie over the weekend demanding the end of the plan and accusing city officials of endangering children.

Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote: “the creation of new reception centres will be supported by the services of the State” subject to local conditions, adding that he wants to provide “the offer of care” to people who use the shooting galleries.

However, he added: “I would like to draw your attention to the obvious difficulty that the creation of such a facility would represent on a site adjacent to an elementary school.”

The mayor of the 20th arrondissement is to hold a public meeting about the issue on Wednesday.

The idea of shooting galleries has sparked a rift in the government between interior minister Gérald Darmanin, who is a hardliner on drug-related issues, and health minister Olivier Véran, whose office has judged the two galleries already up and running to have had a “positive effect”.

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Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted