July 31, 2021

The General Inspectorate of the National Gendarmerie, an unknown and feared institution

It is a discreet house, which intends to remain so. But, for the first time in its brief existence, the General Inspectorate of the National Gendarmerie (IGGN) has decided to reveal itself by officially presenting its annual report, Thursday, July 22. An unprecedented exercise for Alain Pidoux, head of the IGGN since the 1is July 2020.

Ironically, it is on the very site of a tragedy that deeply marked the troops that the inspection is installed, in the heart of Fort Vanves, in Malakoff (Hauts-de-Seine), in a modern building which contrasts singularly with the austere architecture of the place. On July 13, 2007, a gendarme had killed his two children there and then turned the weapon against him after having murdered one of his superiors, accused of harassment – the facts had not been demonstrated. Two years later, thanks to its integration into the Ministry of the Interior, the inspectorate of the gendarmerie was transformed into a “general inspection”, in accordance with the internal control procedures imposed by its new supervision.

From Malakoff, the 100 soldiers divided into four divisions investigate, audit, assess, but do not sanction: this power is reserved for the hierarchical authority, from which they are detached. Their visits to the brigades, the hearings they conduct during internal investigations are no less feared. “When they land, blows a unit commander in the provinces, we start to sweat even if we have the feeling that everything is square. “ Loud verb and southern accent, Lieutenant General Pidoux warns: “Being feared doesn’t really bother me. “

Maintain the image

The requirement of transparency, after having come under accusations of slowness in the investigation into the death of Adama Traoré during his arrest by the gendarmes in 2016, however has a price, which the institution says it assumes: exposing the failings of certain soldiers as well as the recriminations of the population against the gendarmerie. The task is not easy, even if statistics come to the aid of the stated exemplary objective.

The gendarmes do not miss an opportunity to clarify that the number of referrals from the Defender of Rights about them does not exceed 17 cases in 2020 (15.8% of the total, almost 3.5 times less than the police), nor that for the same year some 2,300 sanctions (from the warning to the reprimand of the minister, with especially days of rest) were pronounced for reasons as diverse as drunkenness, acts of concealment or offenses to the regulations. Four soldiers also saw their employment contract terminated and fifteen others were struck off executives.

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