France Extends State of EmergencyJuly 20, 2017 in Uncategorized
The French Parliament this month voted to extend the state of emergency until 1 November 2017, a measure first imposed after Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen killed 130 people in coordinated attacks on Paris in November 2015. The extension also comes as French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that the state of emergency will end in November.
Lawmakers across the political divide supported the extension, with the exception of those from Jean-Luc Melenchon’s hard-left France Unbowed Party and the Community Party, both of which have deemed that the emergency rule is dangerous for civil liberties. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told parliament that “freedom and security are not mutually exclusive…When you strengthen security, you don take away civil liberties, you preserve them, and sometimes you enhance them.”
France, whose forces are part of the US-led coalition that is fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, has been beset by a wave of Islamist militant attacks since early 2015. Nearly all of the attacks have been carried out by IS loyalists or individuals inspired by the group. Human rights groups however have criticized the state of emergency, stating that it tramples on individuals’ rights and that it erodes the rule of law.
The state of emergency effectively allows police to search homes and arrest people without prior consent from judges. It also allows them to tap computer and phone communications more freely. The French government has presented a draft counter-terrorism bill that President Macron wants to replace the temporary emergency powers. The bill, which rights group shave also criticized, envisages extending police powers to stop and search people or conduct house searches and would also give officials more discretion in deciding when to invoke a risk of terrorism as justification for curbs on freedoms.