Security laws in france: senate approves tougher legislation

The state of emergency will expire in a few days. Parliament now waved through a new anti-terror law, but it is limited to three years.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses security authorities Photo: dpa

France’s parliament has again tightened security laws in the fight against terrorism. The Senate on Wednesday finally approved a controversial new anti-terror law. It incorporates certain measures of the state of emergency into normal law in a weakened form, but this is limited to a good three years. The aim is to prepare the security forces for the planned end of the state of emergency, which was imposed after the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris and is now due to expire on November 1.

President Emmanuel Macron also announced a new national plan against extremist radicalization to be presented in December. France has been the target of Islamist attacks several times in recent years, with some 240 people murdered.

Macron said in a speech to security forces that the "ghettoization of certain neighborhoods" must also be fought. Poverty, weakened educational structures and the lack of social as well as economic mobility partly fed radicalization, he said. "And that’s why we also need to address the root of these problems."

France had imposed a state of emergency in response to the attacks at the Bataclan music club, Paris bars and the Stade de France soccer stadium that rocked the country on Nov. 13, 2015. Macron had promised an end to this, but the new anti-terror law retains the core of key special rights.

Critics had therefore repeatedly expressed concern that this would create a kind of "permanent state of emergency". UN human rights experts also criticized the bill. Contrary to the government’s original proposal, however, parliament has added that the authorities’ expanded powers will apply in large part only until the end of 2020.

According to the bill, the interior minister can no longer impose house arrest on suspected terrorist threats. However, those affected can be ordered not to leave their community. Preventive house searches outside judicial investigations are also still possible in cases of suspected terrorism, but only after approval by a judge. The authorities can close religious institutions for up to six months if they incite hatred, violence or discrimination.

The National Assembly had already approved the new rules last week after the two chambers of parliament agreed on a compromise. France had already tightened its security laws several times in recent years.