I am a jurist of childhood and of social and medico-social action, which I approach according to the coloring of the Right of Dignity
I am an expert lawyer in social assistance and human dignity, which is not as yet a legal specialisation at university.
What do I mean? In short, after the decentralization process in France (at the end of the eighties), some departments became responsible for social help, which they had never done before (social help is a public duty since after WW2. Before that, it belonged mostly to private initiative, the church essentially). So the departments were completely overwhelmed by with this latest responsibility. It was the beginning of the judicialization of society when people started to sue whenever they disagreed with the decisions of the administration.
In 1993, the region (département) of Indre-et-Loire was the second one in France which created a position for a lawyer dedicated to social help. I studied family law, administrative law, social security law, criminal law, and so on. Thus, I had most of the understanding required for the job.
On the first day I arrived, ready and eager to occupy my new position, the public health doctor in charge came into my office carrying a huge file. It contained data about an alcoholic nurse, and it was the last possible day on which to send the department’s findings to the tribunal. I had never heard about nurses’ laws before nor had I heard about the medical and social problems of alcoholism. BUT…We won the case!
This illustrates my capacity to grasp issues very quickly!
I spent six years in that position; it was excellent hands-on training. Very quickly, I found myself on very narrow specialised ground; I had become a specialist of social help law, which was in high demand.
After one year’s training in Tours, I received a phone call from a training firm specialising in legal training for administrations. Its motto was: « expensive and high quality ». I worked there for eight years. This means that for five years I practiced both as a lawyer in the Tours region and as a legal lecturer, providing training in Paris and throughout France.
In 1999, I decided to set up my own private practice, which allowed me to move to Annecy, which is near Geneva (Switzerland) and then to Chambéry, which provides convenient access to the rest of France.
Since 1993, I’ve been working in that field, and since 1994 I’ve been working as a lecturer. Quite often, I give lectures or I speak and intervene in colloquiums. The conferences I give usually last between six and seven hours. They may also be held over two days.
And of course I write papers; these depend on the reviews which order them. Most of these papers are available on my website – click here (french version).
The sectors where I am presently best known for is childhood protection and professional secrecy (which is very important to me as a democratic value). I was the first legal expert in France who created lectures about ill-treatment to old people and disabled persons.
Those spheres of action are of course very violent. Thus, I had to study simultaneously psychology and medicine in non-formal training situations. And I’ve been obliged to acquire personal fulfilment ; initially tough work has become pleasure.
I’m used to saying that I approach the law with a philosophy of human rights – as right of human dignity. There are many different shades in the interpretation of rules. You can choose from: penal (exegetical), civil, administrative (teleological interpretation) or/and human rights, which is mine. I mean that the common denominator in the interpretation of the rules is human dignity. With all its declensions: right of defence (right to be informed in simple language about the charges against someone), right to a fair trial, right of the child to be heard (and understood) in all the affairs concerning him… Separation of powers (between the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judiciary branch) is very important in the present time. The will to stop crime creates the temptation to access what is written in social help records.
My favourite target is the respect of privacy, which exists only in democracies. I teach that it is an indicator of democracy in social help. Sometimes, and I may be old fashioned on this point but I have a huge experience about cases where children didn’t get protection because the social workers mentioned the parents’ alcoholism or mental health issues. I teach that we have to describe the behaviour of people in relation to their children. We may then counsel that an alcoholic or a mentally unwell person is entitled to dignity (which helps him or her to recover). Notwithstanding, every parent must show respect towards their children and has a duty of care to them.
As far as I am concerned, human rights always associate a model of rules in a given society -which we wish could or will exist- with a practical consideration of reality.
I recently wrote a book, published by ‘Faber Editions’, which title is: «Childhood protection and democracy». In this book, I explain how a democracy can ‘enter’ into the life of families to watch if children are ill-treated, while respecting privacy. This is the Ariadne’s thread of the book. It is intended for all modern democracies. My aim is to explain how it works without criticizing any dysfunction – except one: I remarked that the debate about surrogate motherhood is an insult to all those children who no longer have a family and dream of getting one. I finish the book with a reflection on the right to equal consideration for people who have suffered but also for the others. It’s a human right which I have created! But the ‘magic’ of human rights, and particularly of children’s rights, is that it is less that one century old. Humanity is about 6 000 years old. Clearly, we are co-creating something completely new, which will have to adapt itself daily in line with what the anthropologists call: ‘the most significant anthropological mutation since the settlement, i.e. the period when we invented fire.’
You can understand why I absolutely want to participate in the development of awareness through the co-creation of human-rights.