Forty years ago, in January 1983, Maurice Papon was first charged with crimes against humanity for his role in the deportation of Jews between 1942 and 1944.
On the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of Genocide and the Prevention of Crimes Against Humanity, Eric Dupond-Moretti, Minister of Justice and Rima Abdul-Malak, Minister of Culture, decided to complete the early opening of the archives relating to the trials that involved him. This opening is part of a desire for transparency on the action of the justice, in the continuity of the decree opening the funds of the Klaus Barbie trial in June 2017.
For this type of document "relating to cases brought before the courts", the Heritage Code normally provides for a period of 75 years from the date of the most recent document or document included in the file, or a period of 25 years from the date of death of the person concerned if the latter period is shorter. Without this early opening decision, it would have taken, depending on the case, between 10 and 50 years to gain access to these archives.
After the opening, by order of 28 March 2022, of the procedural files from the funds of the various courts responsible for the examination of these trials and their follow-up files by the central services of the Ministry of Justice, are now made accessible to all the archives of the cabinets of the Guardians of the Seals in connection with these trials and their follow-up, as well as three procedural files examined by the Council of State after the conviction of Maurice Papon in 1998. These documents are kept on the National Archives' Pierrefitte-sur-Seine website.
From now on, all the records of trials involving Maurice Papon are accessible to anyone who requests them, which represents several hundred files. To make it easier to locate, a status of the sources held in the public archives concerned is posted on the national portal France Archives.
Permitted by the heritage code, this early opening is part of a series of orders that, since 1998, have allowed progressive access to the funds relating to the Second World War and the archives of the trials of war criminals. It is intended to facilitate the work of historians as much as a gesture of remembrance of a dramatic page of our past.