Department for Protection and Security

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Members of the DPS at the National Front party's annual tribute to Joan of Arc in Paris, 2007 May 1st

Department for Protection and Security (DPS) or Département Protection et Sécurité is the "security" branch of the National Front (FN) political party of France, which depends directly from the FN's president and is now led by Eric Staelens.[1] It is currently headed by Eric Staelens and contains 1500 men.[2]

Mission[edit]

The mission of the DPS is providing physical protection of the leaders of the National Front and the monitoring of events or meetings of the party. One feature of DPS compared to other political parties' security services is its quasi-military character, both in the origin of many of its members (former military, police or security guards) and in its equipment consisting of helmets and uniforms similar to those worn by the mobile brigades of law enforcement. There is a fairly strong tradition of red berets (Paratroops) and Green Berets (Foreign Legion).

1998 Parliamentary Commission on the acts of the DPS[edit]

In 1998, a Parliamentary Commission, led by Socialist MP Bernard Grasset (Green MP Noël Mamère and conservative MP Patrick Devedjian were also part of it [1]), was created to investigate its acts, after several violent incidents during demonstrations and other occasions.[3] The report was published on June 3, 1999, and pinpointed several cases of DPS member checking identity card of demonstrators instead of the police.[4] It also pinpointed links with the Groupe Union Défense (GUD), former OAS members, mercenaries and private military contractors.[5][6] The Parliamentary commission declared that the DPS should have been dissolved end of 1996, after the Montceau-les-Mines affair on October 25, 1996, when a DPS unit acted like an ordinary police order force, alike to the C.R.S. anti-riot units. After the creation of the Mouvement National Républicain (MNR) by Bruno Mégret, an offshoot from the FN, the DPS itself also split into two organizations, the DPS on one side and the DPA (Département Protection Assistance) on the other side.[7]

A former member of the DPS has given a long interview to daily Libération. Using the pseudonym "Dominique", he explained that the DPS has special "unofficial" intervention squads made up of former paratroopers and Foreign Legionnaires, veterans of French interventions in Chad, Lebanon, and the Central African Republic. Some members of the DPS were present in covert operations in Zaire (1997 and 2001), Madagascar (in 2002, Didier Ratsiraka called for some mercenaries to resolve the political crisis [2]), Ivory Coast (2001–2003)[8] According to the Voltaire network, the DPS had been created with the help of Jacques Foccart and François de Grossouvre (leader of the French branch of Gladio, NATO's secret armies) after the dissolving of the Service d'Action Civique (SAC) [3] & [4].

Bernard Courcelle's leadership until Bruno Mégret's scission[edit]

DPS is equipped with helmets and shields, gas masks, tear gas launchers, guns that fire rubber bullets, bulletproof vests, clubs, and gloves with lead weights. DPS is alleged to have compiled computerized lists of journalists and antifascist activists with their names, addresses, and photos. They engage in punitive actions against their opponents but have, Dominique said, excellent relations with the police, including the police commissioners. They are organized in terms of military ranks such as colonel and captain. According to Liberation, the DPS now has 3,000 members. Since 1993, the group has been commanded by Bernard Courcelle, who claims, "We only defend ourselves. We never attack the meetings of other groups." According to Reporters Sans Frontières, the DPS has records on journalists who follow the Front National's activities and, on several occasions, was responsible for the beating up of reporters.[9] After Bruno Mégret's split, Bernard Courcelle followed him with 1,700 men from the DPS, and Jean-Marie Le Pen named Marc Bellier to fill his place, and then Jean-Pierre Chabrut[10]

In 1980, Bernard Courcelle was a member, along with Bruno Gollnisch, of the Direction de la Protection de la Sécurité et de la Défense (DPSD), an official Ministry of Defence organization in charge of recruiting mercenaries and informing on weapons traffic. The DPSD allegedly has or had ties, between the two wars, with the terrorist group La Cagoule. In 1983, Bernard Courcelle allegedly created a mercenary firm with his brother. The next year, he became the former security director of the French armaments manufacturer, Luchaire. In 1989, he was in charge of security for the Musée d'Orsay, which responsibility was assumed by none other than Anne Pingeot, president François Mitterrand's secret mistress. In 1993, Courcelle became the leader of the DPS, before becoming in 1999 the leader of Republic of the Congo's president Denis Sassou-Nguesso's personal guard. He then takes charge of the security of the oil company Elf's infrastructures in Pointe-Noire.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Historique - Front National - Jean-Marie Le Pen
  2. ^ Organigramme: Les autres services du FN, National Front website.
  3. ^ National Assembly report
  4. ^ "Un 1er Mai sous haute surveillance". France Info. 2002-04-29. 
  5. ^ Confidentiel.net
  6. ^ National Assembly
  7. ^ "DPS : trop tard pour dissoudre selon les députés". L'Humanité. 1999-06-04. 
  8. ^ "En Afrique, une nouvelle génération de " chiens de guerre "". Le Monde Diplomatique. November 2004.  (translations available in English and Persian)
  9. ^ "Les violences de l’extrême droite contre la presse, un danger à prendre au sérieux". Reporters Sans Frontières. 2002-06-21. 
  10. ^ "Le chef du DPS ira à Marignane". L'Humanité. 1999-01-22. 
  11. ^ "Le Crime continue". Survie NGO. 2000. 

External links[edit]