• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Disquiet grows over French state of emergency
Protesters march behind a banner reading "To put an end to the state of emergency" during a protest against the state of emergency in Rennes on Saturday. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP

Disquiet grows over French state of emergency

AFP · 24 Jan 2016, 16:40

Published: 24 Jan 2016 16:40 GMT+01:00

The state of emergency was imposed after gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a string of Parisian cafes and restaurants, a concert hall and football stadium, leaving 130 dead and hundreds injured on November 13.

It has led to over 2,500 police raids and hundreds of arrests under emergency policing powers that government wants written into the constitution.

The French Human Rights League (LDH), one of many bodies now questioning the efficacy of the harsher measures, said recently that only four legal procedures relating to terrorism had emerged from the spate of police operation

A demonstrator in Rennes on January 23, 2016 holds a sign reading "State of emergency, police state, no security, no freedom"

"The political trap of a state of emergency is closing on the government (because) there will always be a good reason to keep" it in place, said LDH lawyer Patrice Spinozi.

And Jean-Jacques Urvoas, the president of the parliamentary commission of laws argued that the "element of surprise" against potential terrorist networks has been "largely reduced".

The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks warned earlier this month that the state of emergency could constitute a "threat" to democracy.

He raised concerns about ethnic profiling of suspects facing police searches.

And a panel of UN human rights experts said last week the measures placed what they saw as "excessive and disproportionate" restrictions on key rights.

- One and indivisible -

The current three-month state of emergency expires on February 26 and an extension will give government time to adopt reforms to enshrine new security measures into the constitution,

A sense of creeping unease over civil liberties has turned to outright opposition to the state of emergency in many quarters

None has been more divisive than a reform proposed by the Socialist president to strip French citizenship from people convicted of terrorist offences, if they have another nationality.

Rights activists, intellectuals as well as those within the Socialist party have criticised a measure they see as a betrayal of France's founding principles, in which the republic is "one and indivisible".

France's National Human Rights Commission (CNCDH) said the loss of nationality was "of no use in the prevention of terrorist acts."

The commission said it would establish "different treatment" between French people holding dual citizenship and those who are only French, a move "radically opposed to all republican values."

A group of 70 non governmental organisations have called for a protest on January 30 against the measure.

"For us it is definitely non!" they wrote in a declaration.

Protesters march behind a banner reading "To put an end to the state of emergency" in Rennes on January 23, 2016

On Saturday the National Council of Bars, which represents French lawyers, said it was concerned to see the construction of "a judicial and social model which breaks with republican values".

Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the BBC on Friday that France would "use all means" at its disposal to combat terrorism "until we can get rid of Daesh," an acronym for Islamic State.

Story continues below…

However, a source close to Valls told AFP "it is not envisaged in any way to extend it indefinitely."

When asked about the government's intentions regarding the state of emergency, the source said simply that France was at "war", hence "we shall see if we are going to extend it (for) as long as necessary."

The state of emergency boosts police powers, allowing house arrests, raids both day and night and the banning of public gatherings, without permission from a judge.

The lives of the majority of French people have not been affected by the state of emergency, and a recent poll showed 70 percent of people wanted it kept in place.

But there have been cases of violence during police raids, mistaken identity and people losing their jobs because they were placed under house arrest.

For the first time on Friday the Conseil d'Etat -- the highest administrative court -- stopped a house arrest and fined the State as the person in question had not been proved to belong to an Islamist grouping.

The Conseil d'Etat will on Tuesday examine a request from the LDH to end the state of emergency.

Today's headlines
What France says will be the impact of Brexit
Photo: Oli Bac/Flickr

The French president and his government have been talking about the impact of Brexit in several areas. Here's what they had to say.

Hollande says Brexit won't change Channel migrant deal
The Calais Jungle. Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that the Brexit vote won't change border agreements between France and Britain.

Frenchman sentenced to jail time for burying dog alive
Photo: Pedro Dinis/Facebook

A man who buried his disabled dog alive, sparking social media fury in France, has been handed a jail sentence.

Le Thought du Jour
Post-Brexit: Could it benefit France to see the UK suffer?
Will Hollande benefit from the mess left behind by Cameron. Photo: AFP

The referendum result may have boosted Marine Le Pen and the growing anti-EU movement in France, but what has happened since may have taken the wind out their sails.

France 'probes new death threats' against Charlie Hebdo

A special French police unit has launched investigations after Charlie Hebdo magazine was subject to new death threats, according to reports in France.

Paris commuters face summer of transport headaches
Photo: AFP

Here are the train lines to avoid this summer if you're in Paris.

What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Check out Provence's Lavender festivals in July. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/Flickr

We reckon July is by far the best month to be in France. Here's why.

Brexit
France wants Paris to profit from London's losses
Photo: AFP

Paris must take London's place as Europe's financial powerhouse once Brexit happens, a French minister says.

French foie gras industry warns of Christmas shortages
Photo: AFP

The foie gras industry in France is struggling to digest the consequences of the bird flu scare in its heartland.

Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Photo: AFP

Fans of Ireland's "Boys in Green" and Northern Ireland's Green and White Army are to be given a special medal for bringing some joy to Euro 2016.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
2,762
jobs available