France: "I don’t believe in powerlessness"

Five years remain for the Controller-General for Places of Deprivation of Liberty (CGLPL) to witness the changes she is calling for.

For 30 years, Dominique Simonnot was a journalist for Libération and Canard Enchaîné, where she closely followed judicial affairs and frequented the courthouse, including its summary trials and often expeditious decisions.

Since October 2020, she has been the Contrôleure générale des lieux de privation de liberté, CGLPL (the Controller-General for Places of Deprivation of Liberty). This office, created in 2007, has independent administrative authority. The CGLPL, the French NPM, can visit all manner of places of deprivation of liberty: psychiatric hospitals, police custody facilities, juvenile detention centres (CEF), immigration removal centres, and prisons. These visits are the subject of reports that meticulously describe the living conditions of individuals there. This is a surveillance role that gives her optics on mostly overlooked places.

What does she see now that she hadn’t seen before? What are the objectives of her tenure? Prison Insider asked her these questions in an open-ended interview.

Their teeth were chattering, just like the prisoners.

Our purpose is not to cause disruption or confusion

I tell myself that if I keep repeating things, I will eventually be heard.

Politically, progressive measures will not be taken. The election period is not conducive to them.