From the post-war period to Robert Badinter, the abolition of the death penalty in “Le Monde”

VSjudicial chronicler at World since 1950, a respected figure in the editorial staff, Jean-Marc Théolleyre begins forty years ago with a quote from Anatole France in his article from September 18, 1981, the day the National Assembly voted for the abolition of the penalty of death : “Slowly, but still, humanity is realizing the dream of the wise. “ Entered the editorial staff after the Liberation and his return from the Buchenwald camp, the journalist could testify from the inside how much this fight against the death penalty was a slow but inevitable progress, including in the pages of the daily.

The first article dealing with the abolition in France of the death penalty dates from July 19, 1947. It comes after a proposal submitted to the office of the National Assembly by Paul Boulet, deputy for Hérault, and Abbé Gau , deputy for Aude, both MRP (Popular Republican Movement). Jean-Paul Maruege, the justice rubricard, makes a long analysis of the utility of the executioner where he summons Saint Thomas Aquinas and up to the presidium of the USSR. His conclusion is clear: “No, definitely, the times are not over …”

Guillotine or electric chair?

The worlde will then accompany, or rather precede, the slow ripening of spirits. After the Liberation, at the time of judging the horrors of the war, its columns relayed soberly, laconically even, the executions of collaborators, like that of Robert Brasillach, on February 6, 1945.

“It is difficult for me to share the optimism of those who today see in the gradual disappearance of the death penalty a sign of evolution, of progress. »Romain Gary, writer

Then he follows the vain debate on the possibility of replacing the guillotine by the electric chair, considered less inhuman. The dispute is ironically summed up on August 30, 1945 by the title: “Sit or lie down? “. The newspaper also describes the abolitions in other European countries, stressing that crime is not increasing. Soon there will only be France and Francoist Spain to persist. The isolated initiatives of deputies of all stripes (Jules Moch, Pascal Arrighi, René Lecocq, Eugène Claudius-Petit…) are also reported to launch, in vain, a parliamentary debate, with each new head fallen into the basket.

In the 1950s, The world above all, repeatedly and at length, opens its columns to Maurice Boy, lawyer and academician. He is one of those who, to use Albert Camus’ expression, want to put “Death outside the law”. “Public opinion is animated only by a feeling of revenge and immediate satisfaction rather than calmly reflecting on the legitimacy of the death penalty considered from a higher point of view of morality, justice or even more simply of real utility “, thus writes Me Boy in February 1958. In the 1960s, The world reports on each new position taken against the “Widow” (a nickname given to the guillotine), whether it comes from religious authorities or the Communist Party.

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