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CRIME

France rolls out GPS trackers to curb domestic violence

French judges will soon have the option of requiring electronic tracking ankle bracelets for domestic violence offenders, the government said Thursday, as the country grapples with a growing number of women killed by current or former partners.

France rolls out GPS trackers to curb domestic violence
Photo: AFP

The measure, which has long been sought by rights advocates, was passed by parliament this year and will be gradually be rolled out starting Friday, according to a decree in France's government bulletin.

The move is part of a wider government crackdown on domestic violence promised by President Emmanuel Macron, who has announced increased training for police and the creation of 1,000 new places in emergency shelters.

The GPS monitor alerts women as well as police if known abusers get to within a certain distance of their victims.

 

Advocates of the device point to sharp decreases seen after their introduction in Spain and several US states.

Official statistics show that 146 women were killed in domestic violence cases last year, up from 121 in 2018.

Photo: AFP

Overall, the government estimates that more than 200,000 women are victims of marital violence each year, with many cases never reported.

The coronavirus crisis, which prompted a two-month nationwide lockdown last spring, also led to a surge in domestic violence as many women found themselves stuck with their abusers.

READ ALSO: The measures to help domestic violence victims trapped bu France's lockdown

Initially, courts in just five cities will be able to issue the ankle bracelets, but they will be available nationwide by the end of this year, the justice ministry said, adding that around 1,000 of the monitors are currently in stock.

Judges can order them for men convicted of assault or even as part of protection orders for women who report abuse, even before any criminal conviction.

In this case, the alleged offender must agree to wear the bracelet. If he refuses, the judge can order prosecutors to open a criminal inquiry.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti will present the new measure at a courthouse in the Paris suburb of Pontoise on Thursday.

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CRIME

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.

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