Electoral Reserve Period : DRAC Officials Silenced by a Legally Unfounded Order

20/4/12 - Cultural policy - France - With several investigations related to cultural heritage and museums currently underway, we find that all of the questions we have addressed to Directeurs Regionaux des Affaires Culturelles or their deputies are mysteriously answered in the same way with the words : "reserve period", preventing them from providing any information and which is apparently related to the presidential and legislative elections taking place at this time.

Having never encountered this situation before, we searched the net to find out more about this "période de réserve" which means that, since 23 March and until 17 June, none of the employees of the French Ministry of Culture may answer any kind of question.

Here is what we can say based on the information gathered on the subject (see notably here) :

- the electoral reserve period does not correspond to the enactment of any law ; this is a "republican tradition".

- this tradition does not in any way prohibit civil servants from answering questions asked normally by the press ; it "simply" prohibits them from "participating in a public demonstration or ceremony".

- the interpretation made in 2012, thus theoretically prohibiting us for three months from double-checking our sources when working on an article concerning the Ministry of Culture, is therefore a recent invention, and is not supported by any law or "republican" tradition.

- in fact, it is not very republican or democratic for a government to refuse to answer questions from the press on subjects concerning the management of public affairs.

- finally, according to the French Ministry of Culture, it appears that this order does not emanate from the Ministry itself, but from higher up...

In future articles, we will point out the application of this reserve period to explain for the lack of necessary information. It will be too late to complain then.

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Didier Rykner, lundi 23 avril 2012

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