According to BBC, Marine Le Pen was ordered by a French court to undergo psychiatric testing:

A French court has ordered far-right leader Marine Le Pen to undergo psychiatric tests as part of an inquiry into her sharing images of Islamic State group atrocities.

I assume that undergoing psychiatric testing alone (not mentioning a positive result of some mental illness) can have a serious political impact and I am wondering why is she not simply fined?

Question: Why is Marine Le Pen ordered to undergo psychiatric testing instead of just being fined?

  • 1
    Loosely related question about psychiatry mixing with politics: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/15990/…
    – Alexei
    Sep 20, 2018 at 17:32
  • 1
    Somewhat related: A Psychology Today article about the subtleties of mixing psychiatry and politics.
    – Alexei
    Sep 20, 2018 at 17:34
  • This is perhaps a bit too cheeky, but could it simply be that court believes her to be a crazy person?
    – Tal
    Sep 20, 2018 at 17:51
  • @Tal - cannot disagree with that. However, since we are talking about an important political figure, adding psychiatry to the mix might create a dangerous precedent.
    – Alexei
    Sep 20, 2018 at 18:09
  • 1
    @user4012 - yes, I have also stumbled across this Wikipedia article, but using Soviet Union as a reference seems a little exaggerated.
    – Alexei
    Sep 21, 2018 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


As stated in the Le Parisien article mentioned in the BBC article you linked, a medical exam is simply something that a prosecutor must order as part of an investigation for the type of offense that Le Pen is being investigated for.

However, since the point of the medical exam is to provide proper prison care in the event of a conviction I'm sure there are few penalties(if any) for ignoring the order, and that challenging the order wouldn't be too difficult.

The section of the French legal code that requires this sort of order is Article 706-47-1. Translated from the original French:

Persons prosecuted for one of the offenses mentioned in article 706-47 must be subjected, before any judgment on the merits, to a medical report. The expert is questioned about the desirability of an order of care in the framework of a socio-judicial follow-up.

This expertise can be ordered at the stage of the investigation by the public prosecutor.

This expertise is communicated to the prison administration in the event of condemnation to a custodial sentence, in order to facilitate the medical and psychological monitoring in detention provided for by article 717-1.

Article 706-47 contains the various crimes that allow the above medical exam to be ordered, the relevant one for Le Pen being potentially sharing particularly violent content to minors:

Crimes of manufacture, transport, distribution or trade of violent or pornographic message likely to be seen or perceived by a minor

In this case, Le Pen posted various images of tortures/killings by ISIS which could easily have been seen by minors.

  • 1
    So, it is just a technical (legal) step, nothing extraordinary. Is there any precedent for this procedure to have been applied to an important political figure?
    – Alexei
    Sep 20, 2018 at 18:13
  • 1
    @Alexei: I don't know enough(or anything really) about French legal precedent or whether this has happened to other prominent figures, but it definitely just seems like a required legal step. The point of the exam is for proper prison care in the event of a conviction, so I'd be pretty surprised if there were any actual penalties for ignoring/challenging the order.
    – Giter
    Sep 20, 2018 at 18:16
  • I'm fairly certain that there is no penalty. Involuntary medical exams aren't banned outright in the EU, but the justification must be significant. Obvious examples include checks for transmittable diseases, and in life-threatening situations where permission cannot be obtained (i.e. after accidents)
    – MSalters
    Sep 24, 2018 at 23:51

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad"

Infamous Article 706-47 of French criminal law is specially crafted to stifle free speech. It cunningly mixes sharing of pedophilia related pornography with displaying evidence of crimes - in this case atrocities of Islamic State and other Islamic groups. Then it uses that to require psychiatric evaluation of supposed perpetrators.

In case of pedophilia, of course, psychiatric evaluation is warranted, but in this case it is old Soviet trick of declaring dissidents to be mentally ill. In this way, anyone supporting their ideas (and Le Pen has substantial support in France) could be dismissed as simply mad, and the facts and ideas they promote could be simply discarded.

  • 7
    Considering that there's no need to show graphic images to explain that ISIL have committed atrocities (or to discuss abortion or animal rights, etc), it's absolutely false that this is an attempt to stifle free speech. She could have made the exact same point without using graphic media and would have been fine. Graphic images are a very bad tactic. All they'll do is upset people, thus preventing them from actually engaging with an argument. It's just a tactic used by attention seekers with low emotional intelligence. Sep 21, 2018 at 8:31
  • 2
    @rs.29 If what you are saying was true, doctors would insist on showing patients the most gruesome videos of the type of surgery they need... because apparently anything less would be "protecting" them from the "truth". But that is not very sensible logic. Sep 21, 2018 at 20:54
  • 2
    This answer seems to assume the premise that the psychiatric exam is a special disposition taken towards Le Pen and/or "dissidents". This is plain wrong: the psychiatric exam is systematic for anybody charged with "apology of terrorism" since a law was passed creating that offense in 2014. Incidentally, the MP from Le Pen's party, Front National, voted in favor of that law.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 26, 2018 at 21:33
  • 2
    @rs.29 : let's not start the judge's work here, but you have several facts wrong. First of all, what she shared was definitely not direct (it was an edited, propaganda video from ISIS). Second, ISIS has never been called 'freedom fighters' and never armed by France. Third, Le Pen's case is not related to anything 'French citizens' had to pay. Fourth, as stated above, this is no 'tactic' but the standard judicial procedure. Fifth, no one has called LE Pen 'mad'.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 27, 2018 at 6:56
  • 2
    @rs.29 this is still wrong (heavily scenarized videos of executions are propaganda), but since you have not addressed any of the 5 mistakes I pointed in my previous comment I will stop pointing your errors that you don't care about anyway.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 29, 2018 at 0:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .