Are soldiers from Operation Sentinel carrying out identity checks on migrants in the Roya valley without any legality? Videos to this effect, published by Cédric Herrou on Tuesday on social networks and viewed more than two million times, caused the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture to react. The latter denounces in a post “the disinformation organized” by the activist. She also accuses him of having “filmed” the faces of the “soldiers” and thus “allowing them to be identified”, “an irresponsible and dangerous act during an attack alert period”. For his part, he assures him that he is only “defending the rule of law”.
So what do these videos say? broadcast on the former Twitter but also, live, on Facebook? The farmer is located in the Breil-sur-Roya station parking lot. It’s 10:15 a.m. “You carry out identity checks when you do not have the right without an OPJ,” he says to the uniformed legionnaires, stationed next to people who could be migrants. According to Service-public.fr, the official website of the French administration, this operation can only be carried out by a judicial police officer (from the police or gendarmerie) or “under the responsibility” of an OPJ.
“They called us to finish the check”
A gendarmerie lieutenant arrives a few minutes later. Also taken to task by Cédric Herrou, the latter assures that the soldiers acted “on requisition” and “that there is no concern about that”. He also specifies: “They called us so that we could finish the identity check. Which would therefore imply that the legionnaires at least started it. In any case, this is what the activist captured in his video published on X. We see an individual filling out a sheet on the hood of a car, right next to several men in camouflage uniforms.
Requested by 20 minutes this Wednesday, the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture gives a version different from that of the gendarme. She assures that the military “does not control[ai]ent” and that the papers in question “do not[étaient] not identity documents.” According to a spokesperson, the operations filmed by Cédric Herrou were indeed carried out on a “legal basis”: “the soldiers monitor and the police/gendarmes control and arrest if necessary. »
“Defend republican values”
In a new video, posted this Wednesday on X, Cédric Herrou repeats that he “witnessed” the opposite. “The military does not have the right to carry out identity checks and especially not [de faire des] arrests and [la] deprivation of liberty. It’s not me who says it, it’s the law, he says. I am calling on the prefect and the public prosecutor. And the only response I got was an invective. But we do not need to have a suit, a tie and to have been a member of Ena to defend republican values and the rule of law.”
Since June 1, and while the arrivals of migrants from Italy have more than doubled at the border, a “border force” has been deployed in the Alpes-Maritimes. The security forces already present have been reinforced and have since received support from soldiers from Operation Sentinel and drones with thermal cameras.