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France proposes €1,000 fine for using fake vaccine pass

As part of its plan to convert the health pass into a vaccine pass, the French government is also proposing stiff new penalties for those caught with a fake pass.

France proposes €1,000 fine for using fake vaccine pass
A security guard checks health passes in France. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP

In his press conference on Monday evening, French prime minister Jean Castex strongly condemned those who use false health passes, describing it as a “deliberate act to endanger others”.

Forgery networks

The health pass has been required to access certain venues in France since August, and for almost as long there has been a problem with people using false passes.

In some cases fake health passes are created, while in others medics have been caught selling fake vaccination certificates in order to create a real – but fraudulent – pass.

Some people take the less complicated option of simply using someone else’s pass to access a bar, café or leisure venue.

Unlike in some countries, ID checks are not routinely performed when the health pass is checked.

This is because French law says that only an ‘agent of the state’ can request to see a person’s ID. This covers railway staff and spot checks by police officers, but does not allow for waiters or cinema staff to ask to see a person’s ID when they are checking the health pass.

New rules

The health pass in France is set to undergo a change in January. Subject to approval in the French parliament, it will become a vaccine pass – meaning that unvaccinated people can no longer use a negative Covid test to enter health pass venues. Only proof of fully vaccinated status will be accepted.

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

Anticipating an increase in demand for fake passes among the hardcore of vaccine-refuseniks, the bill on vaccine passes also contains a proposal for harsher sentences.

The fine for using a fake pass will rise from €135 to €1,000 for a first offence. 

Lending your health pass to someone else to use is punishable by a €750 fine.

Cafés, bars and other health pass venues who are caught not checking passes will be subject to an immediate €1,000 fine, with the option of closures for repeated offences and fines rising to €45,000.

There are already stiff penalties in force for people who produce fake passes, and at present there is no proposal to change these.

Creating a fake health pass is punishable by fines of up to €75,000 and five years in jail.

Issuing a fake document (eg a negative Covid test or vaccination certificate) that can be used to produce a health pass is also punishable by fines of up to €75,000 and five years in jail.

Fraudulently introducing data into an automated processing system (e.g. recording people as vaccinated when they are not) is punishable by fines of up to €150,000 and five years in jail.

Since the summer there have been several arrests of people involved with creating fake vaccine certificates or health passes, including in some cases health professionals selling certificates to the unvaccinated.

Member comments

  1. That’s all very well but what they need to crack down on is venues allowing people in without passes. There are numerous restaurants and bars that allow people in with no checks imposed. I know for a fact that a lot of these are known to the police but they take no action to enforce the rules. Therefore it makes a mockery of the vaccination pass!

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POLITICS

‘Affaire Mila’: Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

A French court convicted six people on Tuesday for harassing a teen online over her anti-Islam videos in a case that sparked debate about free speech and the right to insult religions.

'Affaire Mila': Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

The girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life after videos in which she insulted Islam went viral in January 2020 and November the same year.

The court handed sentences ranging from a three-month suspended prison term to four months with an electronic bracelet to the two men and four women, aged 19 to 39.

The six were ordered to pay damages of €3,000 ($3,200) each to Mila.

“Their conviction was necessary,” said Mila’s lawyer Richard Malka, but added that he felt no satisfaction at seeing them sentenced.

READ MORE: What is the ‘Affaire Mila’ and what does it say about France and Islam?

“My only satisfaction would be if Mila were able to lead a normal life… and that is not the case,” Malka said.

In the first viral video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to personal abuse from a boy who she says insulted her about her sexuality “in the name of Allah”.

She launched into an expletive-laden rant against Islam along with other explicit comments about Allah deemed highly offensive to practising Muslims.

She published a second video with similar content in November of the same year, after a jihadist killing of French high-school teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown students controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Mila’s lawyer says she received over 100,000 extremely virulent messages in response to the videos, with one person writing that Mila deserved “to have her throat cut”, while others threatened sexual assault.

In July 2021, a French court convicted 11 people for harassment and handed suspended sentences, with some ordered to pay damages of 1,500 euros.

The case has received widespread public attention because it touches on hotly contested issues in France, from cyber harassment to the right to blaspheme, and attitudes to religious minorities.

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