The Law of Suspects

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The Law of Suspects
HistoryWiz Primary Source
France September 17 1793

1. Immediately after the publication of this decree, all suspects found on the territory of the Republic and who are still at liberty will be arrested.

2. Suspects are (i) Those who, either by their conduct or their relationships, by their remarks or by their writing, are shown to be partisans of tyranny and federalism and enemies of liberty; (ii) Those who cannot justify, tinder the provisions of the law of 21 March last, their means of existence and the performance of their civic duties; (iii) Those have been refused certificates of civic responsibility (certificats de civisme); (iv) Public officials suspended or deprived of their functions by the National Convention or its agents, and not since reinstated, especially those who have been, or ought to be, dismissed by the law of 14 August last; (v) Those former nobles, including husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, and agents of émigrés, who have not constantly manifested their loyalty to the Revolution; (vi) Those who have emigrated during the interval between the 1 July 1789 and the publication of the law of 8 April 1792, although they may have returned to France during the period of delay fixed by the law or before.


3. The comités de surveillance established under the law of 21 March last, or those substituting for them, are empowered by the decrees of the representatives of the people to go to the armies and the departments, according to the particular decrees of the National Convention, and are charged with drawing up, in each local district, a list of suspects, of issuing warrants for their arrest and of affixing seals to their private papers. The commanders of the public force, to whom these arrest warrants will be conveyed, must carry them out immediately on pain of dismissal.

4. The members of the committee may only order the arrest of any individual if seven are present, and only by the absolute majority of voices.

5. Individuals arrested as suspects shall be taken first to the jails of the place of their detention; in default of jails, they shall be kept under surveillance in their respective dwellings.

6. Within the following week, they shall be transferred to national buildings, which the departmental administrations shall be required to designate and to have prepared for such purpose immediately after the receipt of the present decree.

7. The prisoners may have their absolutely essential belongings brought into said buildings; they shall remain there under guard until the peace.

8. The expenses of custody shall be charged to the prisoners, and shall be divided among them equally: such custody shall be confided preferably to fathers of families and to the relatives of citizens who are at or are going to the frontiers. The salary therefore is established, for each man of the guard, at the value of one and one-half days of labour.

9. The comités de surveillance shall dispatch to the Committee of General Security of the National Convention, without delay, the list of persons whom they have arrested, with the reasons for their arrest and with the papers they have seized in such connection.

10. If there is occasion, the civil and criminal courts may detain as suspects, and dispatch to the jails above stated, those who are accused of offenses with regard to which it was been declared that there was no occasion for indictment or who have been acquitted of charges brought against them.

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